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Christopher Bryson 

with a foxeword t>>, Colborn 

"Christopher Bryson is an excellent narrator, and he reports on recent 
research previously not known to me. Especially I am intrigued by the story 
about Phyllis Mullenix and her animal research on the influence of fluoride 

on behavior and brain development ft is my sincere hope that his book 

will receive the attention it deserves and that its implications will be seri- 
ously considered." 

Dr. Arvid Carlsson. 2000 Nobel Prize Laureate for Medicine 

"In much the same way biologist Rachel Carson warned us over forty 
years ago in Silent Spring about the havoc and harm being caused by the 
misuse of persistent pesticides, journalist Christopher Bryson here lays 
bare the secret story and hidden dangers of the introduction of fluoride 
chemicals from the cold war era into our drinking water. The irrefutable evi- 
dence ot duplicity and cover-up presented in this book is hair-raising. The 
Fluoride Deception presents a scorching indictment of how researchers 
and health care officials working closely with government agencies, big 
industry, and their attorneys have allowed themselves to surrender their 
responsibility for the medical well-being of their fellow citizens," 

Dr. Albert W. Burgstahler, former president of the 

International Society for Fluoride Research and 

Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Kansas 

"Bryson is right on in his emphasis on the ineffectiveness of fluoridation of 
water with industrial wastes, and its risks of nerve and brain damage, and 
cancer, coupled with the long-standing industrial conspiracy to suppress 
this information." 

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition 

and Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, 

University of Illinois School of Public Health 

"The Fluoride Deception competlingly and inescapably exposes the mur- 
derous fraud that heads of state and industry have for decades perpe- 
trated on an innocent public. Extremely well written and tightly researched. 
The Fluoride Deception is sure to become the 'must read' book in this 
important and burgeoning field." 

Derrick Jensen, author of Trie Culture of Make Believe 
and A Language Older Than Words 

Toute entreprise humaine, fut-elle industrielle, est susceptible de 

Inscription on memorial to the sixty dead of the 1930 Meuse 
Valley disaster 

It is not just a mistake for public health agencies to cooperate and 
collaborate with industries investigating and deciding whether public 
health is endangered — it is a direct abrogation of the duties and 
responsibilities of those public health organizations. 
Scientist Clair Patterson to the U.S. Senate, 

If you aint thinking about Man, God and Law, you aint thinking 
about nothin . 

Joe Strummer (1952-2002) 


Foreword by Theo Colborn vii 

Note on Terminology x 

Acknowledgments xii 

Introduction xiv 

Major Figures in the Fluoride Story xxii 

1 Through the Looking Glass 1 

2 Fireworks at Forsyth 11 

3 Opposite Sides of the Atlantic 30 

4 General Groves s Problem 45 

5 General Groves s Solution: Dr. Harold Hodge and 

the University of Rochester 65 

6 How the Manhattan Project Sold Us Fluoride: 

Newburgh, Harshaw, and Jim Conants Ruse 78 

7 A Subterranean Channel of Secret-Keeping 91 

8 Robert Kehoe and The Kettering Laboratory 101 

9 Donora: A Rich Mans Hocus Pocus 114 

10 The Public Health Service Investigation 133 

11 As Vital to Our National Life As a Spark Plug to a Motor Car 148 

12 Engineering Consent 158 

13 Showdown in the West: Martin vs. Reynolds Metals 168 

14 Fluorine Lawyers and Government Dentists: A Very 
Worthwhile Contribution 176 

15 Buried Science, Buried Workers 184 

16 Hurricane Creek: The People Rule 202 

17 The Damage Is Done 217 Epilogue: Blind to the 
Truth? 230 

Postscript: Dr. Arvid Carlsson, 2000 Nobel Laureate 240 Note on 
Sources 242 Notes 247 

Index 359 



THE QUESTION OF whether fluoride is or is not an essential element is 
debatable. In other words, is the element, fluorine, required for normal 
growth and reproduction? On one hand there appears to be a narrow range 
of topical exposure in which it might prevent cavities. But if exposure is 
too high, it causes serious health problems. And could an individual who is 
totally deprived of fluoride from conception through adulthood survive? 
Definitive research to resolve these questions has never appeared in the 
public record or in peer-reviewed journals. It is important to keep this fact 
in mind as you read this book. 

Chris Bryson informs us that fluorine is, indeed, an essential element in 
the production of the atom bomb, and there is good reason to believe that 
fluoridated drinking water and toothpaste — and the development of the 
atom bomb — are closely related. This claim sounded pretty far-fetched to 
me, and consequently I was extremely skeptical about the connection when 
I started reading the book. Bryson writes with the skill of a top-selling 
novelist, but it was not his convincing storytelling that made me finish the 
book. It was the haunting message that possibly here again was another 
therapeutic agent, fluoride, that had not been thoroughly studied before it 
was foisted on the public as a panacea to protect or improve health. Bryson 
reveals that the safety of fluoride became a firmly established paradigm 
based on incomplete knowledge. The correct questions were never asked 
(or never answered when they were asked), thus giving birth to false or 
bottomless assumptions that fluoride was therapeutic and safe. Certainly, 
the evidence Bryson unearthed in this book begs for immediate attention by 
those responsible for public health. 

As the story unfolds, Bryson weaves pieces of what at first appears to be 
totally unrelated evidence into a tapestry of intrigue, greed, 


collusion, personal aggrandizement, corporate and government cover-up, 
and U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) mistakes. While reading the book, 
I kept thinking back to 1950, three years after I got my BS degree in 
Pharmacy and the year I gave birth to my first child. Fluoride came on the 
market packaged in pediatric vitamin drops for infants. Mothers left the 
hospital with their new babies in their arms and prescriptions in their hands 
from their dismissing physicians for these fluoride-laced drops. About that 
time communities around the country began to add fluoride to their 
drinking water. The promised benefits of fluoride were so positive that my 
dentist friends began to wish that they had chosen dermatology instead of 
dentistry. At that same time pregnant women were being given a 
pharmaceutical, diethylstilbestrol (DES), to prevent miscarriages, as 
well as DES-laced prescription vitamins especially designed for pregnant 
women to produce big, fat, healthy babies. I felt good when I dispensed the 
fluoride and DES prescriptions — they were products designed to prevent 
health problems rather than treat them. Now I can only wonder how many 
children were harmed because I and others like me took the word of the 
National Institutes of Health (NIH), the USPHS, and the major 
pharmaceutical companies producing these products. We were caught up in 
the spin. We were blind to the corporate hubris and were swept along with 
the blissful enthusiasm that accompanies every new advance in modern 
technology and medicine. 

The hazards posed by prenatal exposure to DES surfaced a lot sooner 
than those posed by fluoride. And although by 1958 it was discovered that 
DES caused a rare vaginal cancer that until that time had been found only 
in postmenopausal women, its use during pregnancy was not banned until 
1971 — thirteen years later. Even this year, 2003, new discoveries are being 
reported about the impact on health in the sons and daughters of the DES 
mothers, and now in their grandchildren. It is estimated that in the United 
States alone there are ten million daughters and sons. In comparison to 
DES, where exposure could be traced through prescription records, the 
extent of exposure to fluorides through drinking water, dental products, 
vitamins, and as Bryson points out, through Teflon, Scotchgard, 
Stainmaster, and other industrial and agricultural fluorinated products is 
practically unmeasurable. 


Certainly the evidence Bryson presents in this book should cause 
those charged with protecting public health to demand answers about 
the developmental, reproductive, and functional role of fluorine in all 
living organisms. A lack of data on the safety of a product is not proof 
of safety. Evidence has only recently surfaced that prenatal exposure 
to certain fluorinated chemicals is dangerous, often fatal at high doses, 
and that — even at extremely low levels — such exposure can 
undermine the development of the brain, the thyroid, and the 
metabolic system. This evidence surfaced because industrial fluorine 
chemicals were suddenly being discovered in human and wildlife 
tissue everywhere they were looked for on earth. As a result, the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) began to press the 
manufacturers of these products for data on their safety. It is no 
wonder that such chemicals never made it on the list of known 
endocrine disrupters, chemicals that undermine development and 
function. The studies were never done, or if they were, they were not 
available to the public. It is time that these chemicals, at the 
cumulative concentrations they are found in the environment, be tested 
thoroughly for their developmental, reproductive, and endocrine 

Whether or not Bryson's nuclear-bomb connection is ever con- 
firmed without a doubt, this book demonstrates that there is still much 
that needs to be considered about the continued use of fluorine in 
future production and technology. The nuclear product that required 
the use of fluorine ultimately killed 65,000 people outright in one 
sortie over Japan. The actual number of others since then and in 
generations to come who will have had their health insidiously 
undermined by artificial exposure to fluorides and other fluorine 
chemicals with half-lives estimated in geologic time may well exceed 
that of the atom bomb victims millions and millions of times over. 

Dr. Theo Colborn, coauthor of Our Stolen Future: 
Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and 

A Scientific Detective Story (1996) 

Note on Terminology 

THE TERMS fluorine and fluoride should not be confused in a book about 
chemical toxicity. Fluorine is an element, one of our planets building 
blocks, an especially tiny atom that sits at the summit of the periodic table. 
Its lordly location denotes an unmatched chemical potency that is a 
consequence of its size and structure. The nine positively charged protons 
at the atoms core get little protection from a skimpy miniskirt of electrons. 
As a result, fluorine atoms are unbalanced and dangerous predators, 
snatching electrons from other elements to relieve their core tension. (A 
ravenous hunger for electrons explains why fluorine cuts through steel like 
butter, burns asbestos, and reacts violently with most organic material.)' 

Mercifully, Mother Nature keeps fluorine under lock and key. Because 
of its extreme reactivity, fluorine is usually bound with other elements. 
These compounds are known as salts, or fluorides, the same stuff that they 
put in toothpaste. Yet the chemical potency of fluorides is also dramatic. 
Armed with a captured electron, the toxicity of the negatively charged 
fluoride ion now comes, in part, from its tiny size. (Ionic means having 
captured or surrendered an electron). Like a midget submarine in a harbor 
full of battleships, fluoride ions can get close to big molecules — like 
proteins or DNA — where their negative charge packs a mighty wallop that 
can wreak havoc, forming powerful bonds with hydrogen, and 
interfering with the normal fabric of such biological molecules.' 

However — and please stay with me here, I promise it gets easier 
— somewhat confusingly, the words fluorine and fluoride are some-times 
used interchangeably. A fluoride compound is often referred to, generically, 
as fluorine. (For example, the Fluorine Lawyers Committee was a group of 
corporate attorneys concerned about the medical and legal dangers from a 
great range of different industrial "fluorides" spilling from company 

In these pages Ive tried to be clear when Im referring to the element 
fluorine or to a compound, a fluoride. And because different fluoride 
compounds often have unique toxicities, where relevant or 


possible, I have also given the compounds specific name. Mostly, 
however, for simplicity s sake, I have followed convention and used 
the shorthand fluoride when referring to the element and its multiple 
manifestations, a procedure approved and used by the U.S. National 
Academy of Sciences.' 


This book owes a debt of gratitude to many. First is my wife, Molly, whose 
love and encouragement pushed me to the starting line and carried me 
across the finish. My first encounter with fluoride came as a BBC radio 
journalist working in New York in 1993, when I was asked to find an 
"American angle" on water fluoridation. Ralph Nader put me in touch with 
scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who opposed 
fluoridation) As I followed that story, I met the medical writer Joel 
Griffiths. His investigative article "Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist 
Ploy" in the fall 1992 issue of the magazine Covert Action Information 
Bulletin is a masterful and detailed account of how fluoride is primarily an 
industrial and environmental story. Griffiths reported how vested 
economic interests were behind the earliest suggestions that fluoride be 
added to water, while those same interests for decades had assiduously 
suppressed information about fluorides destructive effects on health and 
environment. Griffiths paradigm-shifting story was my starting gun and, as 
my Manhattan neighbor, I leant heavily on his reporting, interviews, 
documents, interpretation and the gentle friendship of him and his wife 
Barbara as I wrote this book. Librarians are foot soldiers of democracy, and 
a legion of them sacked archives for me from Tennessee to Washington 
State and from Denmark to London. Everywhere I was met with eager help 
digging out dusty files and courteous answers to the most foolish of 
questions. Special thanks to my favorite Metallica fan, Billie Broaddus, at 
the University of Cincinnati Medical Heritage Center, Marjorie Ciarlante 
at the National Archives in Washington, DC, and Donald Jerne at the 
Danish National Library of Science and Medicine. The book's spine is the 
authority of the many workers, scientists, and public officials who gave so 
freely of their time. Particular gratitude to Albert Burgstahler of the 
University of Kansas, the EPA's J. William Hirzy, Robert J. Carton, Phyllis 
J. Mullenix, Kathleen M. Thiessen of SENES Oak Ridge Inc., and Robert F. 
Phalen of the University 


of California at Irvine, who each spent long hours reviewing documents 
and medical studies for me. 

I had the good fortune to serve an apprenticeship in the 1980s with the 
late Jonathan Kwitny, one of the nations top investigative reporters. From 
his hospital bed, weak from radiation treatment, he encouraged me. This is 
your book, he said. I was helped with financial support from the Fund for 
Investigative Journalism, Inc., and the Institute for Public Affairs. A 
bouquet to Dan Simon at Seven Stories Press, who clapped his hands in 
glee when told he'd be taking on the great industrial trusts of America. 
Special thanks to Lexy Bloom and Ruth Hein for their critical and 
conscientious editing; to George Miirer, Anna Lui, Chris Peterson, and 
India Amos for wrestling this octopus to the printer; and to the entire staff 
at Seven Stories Press for their passion and commitment. 

Many helped in myriad other ways. This book is theirs, too. Gwen 
Jaworzyn, Janet Michel, Bette Hileman, USA Today and Peter Eisler, 
George Mavridis, Felicity Bryson and Vincent Gerin, Ruth Miller at the 
Donora Historical Society, Anne-Lise Gotzsche, Barbara Griffiths, 
Anthony and Nancy Thompson and family, Basil and Anne Henderson, 
Joan-Ellen and Alex Zucker, Nina and David Altschil-ler, Bill and Janney 
Murtha, Tom Webster, Naomi Flack, Ken Case, Bob Woffinden, Traude 
Sadtler, Gordon Thompson, Clifford and Russ Honicker, Jacqueline O. 
Kittrell, Ellie Rudolph, Robert Hall, Martha Bevis, John Marks, Chris 
Trepal, Carol Patton, Gar Smith at Earth Island Journal, Lennart Krook, 
Danny Moses at Sierra Club Books, Andreas Schuld, Erwin Rose and 
family, Roberta Baskin, the Connett family, Colin Beavan, Sam Roe, Karin 
and Hans Hendrik Roholm, Eleanor Krinsky, Allen Kline, Bill and Gladys 
Shempp ( who put me up in their home in Donora one night), Elizabeth 
Ramsay, Lynne Page Snyder, and Peter Meiers, whom I never met nor 
spoke with but whose splendid research led me to the papers of Charles F. 

Thank you all. 


A Clear and Present Danger 

Warning: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you 
accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, get medical help or 
contact a Poison Control Center right away. 

NEXT TIME YOU confront yourself in the bathroom mirror, mouth full 
of foam, take another look at that toothpaste tube. Most of us associate 
fluoride with the humdrum issue of better teeth and the promised fewer 
visits to the dentist. Yet the story of how fluoride was added to our 
toothpaste and drinking water is an extraordinary, almost fantastic tale. 
The plot includes some of the most spec tacular events in human 
affairs — the explosion of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, for example. Many 
of the principal characters are larger than life, such as the "father of public 
relations" Edward L. Bernays, Sigmund Freud's nephew, who was until 
now more famous for his scheme to persuade women to smoke cigarettes.' 
And the twists and turns of the fluoride story are propelled by nothing less 
than the often grim requirements of accumulating power in the industrial 
era — the same raw power that is at the beating heart of the American 

Fluoride lies at the elemental core of some of the greatest fortunes that 
the world has ever seen, the almost unimaginable wealth of the Mellons of 
Pittsburgh and the DuPonts of Delaware. And no wonder the warning on 
the toothpaste tube is so dramatic. The same potent chemical that is used 
to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, to prepare Sarin nerve gas, and to 
wrestle molten steel and aluminum from the earth's ore is what we give to 
our children 


first thing in the morning and last thing at night, flavored with peppermint, 
strawberry, or bubble gum. 

Fluoride is so muscular a chemical that it has become a lifeblood of 
modern industry, pumped hotly each day through innumerable factories, 
refineries, and mills. Fluoride is used to produce high-octane gasoline; to 
smelt such key metals as aluminum, steel, and beryllium; to enrich 
uranium; to make computer circuit boards, pesticides, ski wax, refrigerant 
gases, Teflon plastic, carpets, waterproof clothing, etched glass, bricks and 
ceramics, and numerous drugs, such as Prozac and Cipro. 

Fluoride's use in dentistry is a sideshow by comparison. But its use in 
dentistry helps industry, too. How does it work? Call it elemental public 
relations. Fluoride is so potent a chemical that it's also a grave 
environmental hazard and a potential workplace poison. So, for the 
industry-sponsored scientists who first promoted fluoride's use in dentistry, 
linking the chemical to better teeth and stoutly insisting that, in low doses, 
it had no other health effect helped to change fluorides image from poison 
to panacea, deflecting attention from the injury that factory fluoride 
pollution has long wreaked on workers, citizens, and nature. 

Hard to swallow? Maybe not. The face-lift performed on fluoride more 
than fifty years ago has fooled a lot of people. Instead of conjuring up the 
image of a crippled worker or a poisoned forest, we see smiling children. 
Fluoride's ugly side has almost entirely escaped the public gaze. Historians 
have failed to record that fluoride pollution was the biggest single legal 
worry facing the atomic-bomb program following World War II. 
Environmentalists are often unaware that since World War II, fluoride has 
been the most damaging poison spilling from factory smokestacks and was, 
at one point during the cold war, blamed for more damage claims against 
industry than all twenty other major air pollutants combined. And it was 
fluoride that may have been primarily responsible for the most notorious 
air pollution disaster in U.S. history — the 1948 Halloween nightmare that 
devastated the mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania — which jump-started 
the U.S. environmental movement.' 

It's the same story today: more happy faces. Yet we are exposed to 
fluoride from more sources than ever. We consume the chemical from 
water and toothpaste, as well as from processed foods made 


with fluoridated water and fluoride-containing chemicals. We are exposed 
to fluorine chemicals from often-unrecognized sources, such as 
agricultural pesticides, stain-resistant carpets, fluorinated drugs, and such 
packaging as microwavable popcorn bags and hamburger wrappers, in 
addition to industrial air pollution and the fumes and dust inhaled by many 
workers inside their factories. 

Fluorides double-fisted trait of bringing out the worst in other 
chemicals makes it especially bad company. While a common air pollutant, 
hydrogen fluoride, is many times more toxic than better-known air 
pollution villains, such as sulfur dioxide or ozone, it "synergistically" 
boosts the toxicity of these pollutants as well. Does fluoride added to our 
drinking water similarly increase the toxicity of the lead, arsenic, and other 
pollutants that are routinely found in our water supply? As we shall see, 
getting answers to such questions from the federal government, even after 
fifty years of endorsing water fluoridation, can prove impossible. 

By the mid-193os European scientists had already linked fluoride to a 
range of illnesses, including breathing problems, central-nervous-system 
disorders, and especially an array of arthritis-like musculoskeletal 
problems.' But during the cold war, in one of the greatest medical vanishing 
acts of the twentieth century, fluoride was systematically removed from 
public association with ill health by researchers funded by the U.S. military 
and big corporations. In Europe excess exposure to fluoride produced a 
medical condition described as "poker back" or "crippling skeletal 
fluorosis" among fac tory workers. But the chemical somehow behaved 
differently when it crossed the Atlantic, the industry-funded researchers 
implied, failing to produce such disability in the United States. It was a 
deceit, as we shall see: scientific fraud on a grand and global scale; a 
lawyerly ruse to escape liability for widespread worker injury; a courtroom 
hustle made possible and perpetuated by the suppression of medical 
evidence and by occasional perjury. 

Your history is all mixed up, say supporters of water fluorida-tion. The 
story of how fluoride was added to our toothpaste and water is a separate 
history, unrelated to fluoride's use in industry, they maintain. But there is 
only one story, not two. The tale of the dental wonder chemical and the 
mostly secret account of how industry and the U.S. military helped to 
create and polish that 


public image are braided too closely to distinguish between them. The 
stories merge completely in the conduct of two of the most senior 
American scientists who led the promotion of water fluo-ridation in 
the 19405 and 1950S, Dr. Harold Carpenter Hodge and Dr. Robert 
Arthur Kehoe. 

Don't blame the dentists. They were taught that fluoride is good for 
teeth. Few realize that Dr. Hodge, the nation's leading fluoride 
researcher who trained a generation of dental school deans in the 
19506 and 1960S, was the senior wartime toxicologist for the Man- 
hattan Project. There he helped choreograph the notorious human 
radiation experiments in which hospital patients were injected with 
plutonium and uranium — without their knowledge or consent — in 
order to study the toxicity of those chemicals in humans. Hodge was 
similarly charged with studying fluoride toxicity. Building the worlds 
first atomic bomb had required gargantuan amounts of fluoride. So, 
for example, on behalf of the bomb makers he covertly monitored one 
of the nation's first public water fluoridation experiments. While the 
citizens of Newburgh, New York, were told that fluoride would reduce 
cavities in their children, secretly blood and tissue samples from 
residents were sent to his atomic laboratory for study.' 

Some dentists are unaware that much of the fluoride added to 
drinking water today in the United States is actually an industrial 
waste, "scrubbed" from the smokestacks of Florida phosphate fer- 
tilizer mills to prevent it from damaging livestock and crops in the 
surrounding countryside. In a sweetheart deal these phosphate com- 
panies are spared the expense of disposing of this "fluosilicic acid" in a 
toxic waste dump. Instead, the acid is sold to municipalities, shipped 
in rubber-lined tanker trucks to reservoirs across North America and 
injected into drinking water for the reduction of cavities in children. 
(So toxic are the contents of the fluoride trucks that in the aftermath of 
the September II, zoos, terrorist attack, authorities were alerted to keep 
a watchful eye on road shipments of the children's tooth-decay 
reducer.) 8 

"I had no idea where the fluoride was coming from until the 
anti-fluoridationists pointed it out to me, Dr. Hardy Limeback, the 
head of Preventative Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Canada, 
and a former leading fluoridation supporter, told me. I said, You have 
got to be wrong. That is not possible! 


Those same phosphate manufacturers were members of an influential 
group of industries that sponsored Dr. Robert Kehoes fluoride research at 
the University of Cincinnati during the 1940s and 1950s. Kehoe is better 
known today for his career-long defense of the safety of adding lead to 
gasoline (now discredited). But he was also a leading figure reassuring 
citizens and scientists of the safety of industrial fluoride and water 
fluoridation, while burying information about the chemicals toxic effects 
and privately sharing doubts with his corporate sponsors about the safety of 
even tiny amounts of the chemical. 9 

Not surprisingly, peering behind the fifty-year-old facade of smiling 
children with rows of picket-fence-white teeth is difficult. Industry is 
reluctant to have its monument to fluoride safety blackened or its role in 
dental mythmaking explored. Several of the archives I visited had gaping 
holes or missing documents, and some were closed entirely. And many 
scientists are reluctant to speak critically about fluoride — mindful of the 
fate of researchers who have questioned the government line. Scientists 
have been fired for their refusal to back down from their questions about 
the safety of fluoride, blackballed by industry, or smeared by propagandists 
hired by the U.S. Public Health Service and the American Dental 
Asso-ciation. 10 "Bodies litter the field," one senior dental researcher told 
me when he learned that I was writing a book on fluoride. 

Myths are powerful things. Mention of fluoride evokes a skeptically 
cocked eyebrow from liberals and conservatives alike and an almost 
reflexive mention of the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film Dr. Strangelove. The 
hilarious portrayal of General Jack D. Ripper as a berserk militarist 
obsessed with Communists adding fluoride to the nation's water became a 
cultural icon of the cold war — and perhaps the movie's most famous scene. 
(Today Nile Southern, the son of Dr. Strangelove's screenwriter, Terry 
Southern, remarks that the news that U.S. military and industrial 
interests — not Communists — promoted water fluoridation is "just 
shocking. Terry and Stanley [ Kubrick] would have been horrified by it.")" 

The media caricature was largely false. The national grassroots struggle 
against water fluoridation was a precursor of todays environmental 
movement, with multicolored hues of political affiliation. It was led by 
veteran scientists with distinguished careers safeguard- 


ing public health, including the doctor who warned the nation about 
the dangers of cigarette smoking and the risk from allergic reaction to 
penicillin. Yet instead of being seen as medical pioneers and 
minutemen, warning of the encroachment of industrial poisons, 
antifluoridationists are portrayed as unscientific and isolationist the 
modern equivalent of believing that the earth is flat. 

It is the U.S. medical establishment that is out on a limb, say crit ics. 
Adding to water a chemical so toxic that it was once used as rat poison 
was a uniquely American idea and is, increasingly, a lone American 
practice. Most European countries do not add fluoride to their water. 
Several nations have long since discontinued the practice, 
doubting its safety and worth." 

Fluoride may help teeth, but the evidence is not overwhelming. 
Although rates of dental decay have fallen significantly in the United 
States since the 194os, similar improvements have been seen in 
countries where fluoride is not added to the water. Improved dental 
care, good nutrition, and the use of antibiotics may explain the 
parallel improvement. A largely sympathetic official review of 
fluoridation by the British government in 2000 found that most 
studies of the effectiveness of fluoridated water were of moderate 
quality and that water fluoridation may be responsible for 15 percent 
fewer cavities/ Thats a far cry from the 65 percent reductions 
promised by the early promoters of fluoride. With revelations that 
such health problems as central nervous system effects, arthritis, and 
the risk of bone cancer were minimized or concealed entirely from 
the public by early promoters of fluoride, the possible benefit of a 
handful of better teeth might not be worth running the risk. How 
many cavities would have to be saved to justify the death of one man 
from osteosarcoma?" asked the late Dr. John Colquhoun, the former 
chief dental officer of Auckland, New Zealand, and a fluoride 
promoter turned critic. 

"I did not realize the toxicity of fluoride," said Dr. Limeback, the 
Canadian. I had taken the word of the public health dentists, the 
public health physicians, the USPHS, the USCDC, the ADA, the CDA 
[Canadian Dental Association] that fluoride was safe and effective 
without actually investigating it myself. 

Even the theory of how fluoride works has changed. The CDC no 
longer argues that fluoride absorbed from the stomach via 


drinking water helps teeth. Instead, the argument goes, fluoride strikes at 
dental decay from outside the tooth, or topically, where, among other 
effects, it attacks the enzymes in cavity-causing bacteria. Drinking 
fluoridated water is still important, according to the CDC, because it bathes 
the teeth in fluoride-enhanced saliva — a cost-effective way of reaching 
poorer families who may not have a balanced diet, access to a dentist, or the 
regular habit of brushing with fluoride toothpaste.' 

But swallowing treated water allows fluoride into our bones and blood, 
where it may be harmful to other parts of the body, say critics. If fluoride 
can kill enzymes in tooth bacteria, its potentially crippling effects on other 
enzymes — the vital chemical catalysts that regulate much biological 
activity — must be considered.' 

When I investigated [such questions] I said, "This is crazy." Lets take it 
out of the water because it is harming so many people — [not] simply the 
dental fluorosis [the white mottling on teeth caused by fluoride], but now 
we are seeing bone problems and possibly cancer and thyroid problems. If 
you are really targeting the poor people, lets give toothpaste out at the food 
banks. Do something other than fluoridate the water supply," said Dr. 
Limeback. Then [the fluoride promoters] kept saying, Well, it is cost 
effective. That is a load of crap-it is cost effective because they are using 
toxic waste, for crying out loud! 

History tells us that overturning myths is rarely easy. But we have been 
down this path before. The fluoride story is similar to the fables about lead, 
tobacco, and asbestos, in which medical accomplices helped industry to 
hide the truth about these substances for generations. Fluoride workers 
share a tragic fate with the souls who breathed beryllium, uranium, and 
silica in the workplace. Endless studies that assured workers that their 
factories and mines were safe concealed the simple truth that thousands of 
people were being poisoned and dying painful early deaths from these 
chemicals. So if this tale of how fluorides public image was privately 
laundered sounds eerily familiar, maybe its because the very same 
professionals and institutions who told us that fluoride was safe said much 
the same about lead, asbestos, and DDT or persuaded us to smoke more 


Lulled by half a century of reassurances from supporters of fluoride 
in the public health establishment, many doctors today have no idea of 
the symptoms of fluoride poisoning. A silent killer may stalk us in our 
ignorance. There is a black hole out there, in terms of the public and 
scientific knowledge, says former industry toxicologist Dr. Phyllis 
Mullenix. There is really no public health issue that could impact a 
bigger population. I dont think there is an element of this society that 
is not impacted by fluoride. It is very far-reaching and it is very 

Fifty years after the U.S. Public Health Service abruptly reversed course 
during the darkest days of the cold war — and endorsed artificial water 
fluoridation — it is time to recognize the folly, hubris, and secret agendas 
that have shackled us too long, poisoning our water, choking our air, and 
crippling workers. It is time, as the Quakers ask in life, to speak truth to 
power. Good science can sharpen the tools for change, but it will be public 
opinion and citizen action that strike those shackles free. 

Major Figures On The Fluoride Story 

EDWARD L. BERNAYS. A propagandist and the self-styled father of public 
relations, Bernays was Sigmund Freud s nephew. Among his clients were 
the U.S. military, Alcoa, Procter and Gamble, and Allied Signal. On 
behalf of big tobacco companies he persuaded American women to smoke 
cigarettes. He also promoted water fluoridation, consulting on strategy for 
the National Institute of Dental Research. 

GERALD JUDY COX. A researcher at the Mellon Institute in the 1930s, 
where he held a fellowship from the Aluminum Company of America. 
Following Frarys (see below) suggestion, Cox reported that fluoride gave 
rats cavity-resistant teeth and in 1939 made the first public proposal to add 
fluoride to public water supplies. 

HENRY TRENDLEY DEAN . The U.S. Public Health Service researcher 
who studied dental fluorosis in areas of the United States where fluoride 
occurred naturally in the water supply. His fluorine-caries hypothesis 
suggested that fluoride made teeth cavity-resistant but also caused 
unsightly dental mottling. Worried about toxicity, Dean opposed adding 
fluoride to water in Newburgh, New York, the site of the nations 
first-planned water fluoridation experiment. In 1948 Dean became the first 
director of the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) and, in 
1953 a top official of the American Dental Association. 

OSCAR R . EWING . A top Wall Street lawyer for the Aluminum Company 
of America. As Federal Security Agency administrator for the Truman 
administration with jurisdiction over the Public Health Service, it was 
Ewing who, in 1950, endorsed public water fluoridation for the United 


FRANCIS COWLES FRARY. As Director of Research at the Aluminum 
Company of America from 1918, Frary was one of the most powerful 
science bureaucrats in the United States and grappled with the issue of 
fluoride emissions from aluminum smelters. It was Frary who made early 
suggestions to Gerald Cox, a researcher at the Mellon Institute, that 
fluoride might make strong teeth. 

GENERAL LESLIE R. GROVES. Head of the U.S. Army Corps of 
Engineers' Manhattan Project to build the world's first atomic bomb. 

HAROLD CARPENTER HODGE. A biochemist and toxicologist at the 
University of Rochester who investigated fluoride for the U.S. Armys 
Manhattan Project, where he also supervised experiments in which 
unsuspecting hospital patients were injected with uranium and plutonium. 
After the war Hodge chaired the National Research Councils Committee 
on Toxicology and became the leading scientific promoter of water 
fluoridation in the United States during the cold war. 

DUDLEY A. IRWIN. Alcoa s medical director who helped oversee Robert 
Kehoes fluoride research at the Kettering Laboratory, and who met 
personally with top fluoride researchers at the National Institute of Dental 
Research (NIDR) following the verdict in the Martin air-pollution trial. 

ROBERT A. KEHOE . As the Director of the Kettering Laboratory of 
Applied Physiology at the University of Cincinnati, Kehoe was the 
leading defender in the United States of the safety of leaded gasoline. 
Guided by a group of corporate attorneys known as the Fluorine Lawyers 
Committee, Kehoe similarly defended fluoride on behalf of a group of 
corporations that included DuPont, Alcoa, and U.S. Steel, all of which 
faced lawsuits for industrial fluoride pollution. 

EDWARD J. L ARGENT. A researcher at the Kettering Laboratory who 
defended corporations accused of fluoride pollution and spent a career 
negating the fluoride warnings of the Danish scientist Kaj 


Roholm. Largent exposed his wife and son to hydrogen fluoride in a 
laboratory gas chamber. 

NICHOLAS C. LEONE. The head of medical investigations at the federal 
governments NIDR who was in close communication with industry s 
Fluorine Lawyers and who, following the 1955 Martin verdict, met with 
Alcoa s Dudley Irwin and the Kettering Laboratory s Robert Kehoe to 
discuss how government water fluoridation safety studies could help 

WILLIAM J. MARCUS . A senior toxicologist in the EPAs Office of 
Drinking Water. In 1992, after he protested what he described as the 
systematic downgrading of the results of the government's study of cancer 
and fluoride, he was fired. A federal judge later ruled that he had been fired 
because of his scientific opinions on fluoride and ordered him reinstated. 

PAUL AND VERLA MARTIN. Oregon farmers who were poisoned by 
fluoride from a Reynolds Metals aluminum plant. Their precedent-setting 
court victory in 1955 sparked emergency meetings between fluoride 
industry representatives and senior officials from the National Institute of 
Dental Research and launched a crash program of laboratory experiments 
at the Kettering Laboratory to prove industrial fluoride pollution "safe." 

PHYLLIS J. MULLENIX. A leading neurotoxicologist hired by the 
Forsyth Dental Center in Boston to investigate the toxicity of materials 
used in dentistry. In i 994 after her research indicated that fluoride was 
neurotoxic, she was fired. 

KAJ ELI ROHOLM. The Danish scientist who in 1937 published the book 
Fluorine Intoxication, an encyclopedic study of fluoride pollution and 
poisoning. He opposed giving fluoride to children. 

PHILIP SADTLER. The third-generation son of a venerable Philadelphia 
family of chemists, Sadtler gave expert testimony during the 1940s and 
1950s on behalf of farmers and citizens who claimed that they had been 
poisoned by industrial fluoride pollution. He 


blamed fluoride for the most notorious air pollution disaster in U.S. history, 
during which two dozen people were killed and several thousand were 
injured in Donora, Pennsylvania, over the Halloween weekend in 1948. 

FRANK L.SEAMANS. A top lawyer for Alcoa, Seamans was also 
head of the group of senior attorneys known as the Fluorine Lawyers 
Committee, which represented big corporations in cases of alleged 
industrial fluoride pollution. 

GEORGE L. WALDBOTT. A doctor and scientist and a leading 
expert on the health effects of environmental pollutants, Waldbott's 
research in the 19505 and 196os on his own patients indicated that 
many people were uniquely sensitive to very small doses of fluoride. 
He founded the International Society for Fluoride Research and was a 
leader of the international and domestic opposition to water 

COLONEL STAFFORD L. WARREN. Head of the Manhattan 
Projects Medical Section. 

EDWARD RAY WEIDLEIN. Director of the Mellon Institute, where 
Cox carried out his studies. 

Through the Looking Glass 

At the children's entrance to the prestigious Forsyth Dental Center in Boston, 
there is a bronze mural from a scene in Alice in Wonderland. The mural 
makes scientist Phyllis Mullenix laugh. One spring morning, when she was 
the head of the toxicology department at Forsyth, she walked into the ornate 
and marbled building and, like Alice, stepped through the looking glass. 
That same day in her Forsyth laboratory she made a startling discovery 
and tumbled into a bizarre wonderland where almost no one was who they 
had once appeared to be and nothing in the scientists life would ever be the 
same again. 

AS SHE DROVE alongside the Charles River in the bright August 
sunshine of 1982 for her first day of work at the Forsyth Dental Center in 
Boston, toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix was smiling. She and her husband 
Rick had recently had their second daughter. Her new job promised 
career stability and with it, the realization of a professional dream. 

Since her days as a graduate student Mullenix had been exploring new 
methods for studying the possible harmful effects of small doses of 
chemicals. By 1982 Dr. Mullenix was a national leader in the young 
science of neurotoxicology, measuring how such chemicals affected the 
brain and central nervous system. She and a team of researchers were 
developing a bold new technology to perform those difficult 
measurements more accurately and more quickly than ever before. 
The system was called the Computer Pattern Recognition System. 


It used cameras to record changes in the pattern of behavior of laboratory 
animals that had been given tiny amounts of toxic chemicals. Computers 
then rapidly analyzed the data. By detecting how the animals behavior 
differed from that of similar control animals — that were not given the 
toxic agent — scientists were able to measure or quantify the extent to 
which a chemical affected the animals central nervous system. 

Previous such efforts had relied on subjective guesswork as to the 
severity of the chemicals toxic effect or on laborious and time-consuming 
efforts to quantify the changes the chemical made in behavior. The speed 
of the computers and the accuracy of the camera measurements in the 
Mullenix system, however, could potentially revolutionize the study of 
toxic chemicals. 

As her car flew along the Charles River that summer morning in 1982, 
Mullenix knew that her new job and the support of the prestigious Forsyth 
Dental Center would finally allow her to complete the work on her new 

Mullenix had caught the eye of Forsyth s director, John Jack Hein, 
some years earlier. He had attended one of her seminars at the Harvard 
Medical School, where she was a faculty member in the Department of 
Psychiatry. He had sat in the audience, dazzled, his mind racing. Hein 
remembers a very bright woman describing a revolutionary new 
technology, which he believed had the potential for transforming the 
science of neurotoxicology. She had the world by the tail, said Hein. 
There is nothing more exciting than a new methodology. ' 

Jack Hein wanted Mullenix to bring her new technology to For-syth and 
to set up a modern toxicology laboratory. It would be the first such dental 
toxicology center in the country. Many powerful chemicals are routinely 
employed in a dentists office, such as mercury, high-tensile plastics, 
anesthetics, and filling amalgams. Hein knew that an investigation of the 
toxicity of some of these materials was overdue. 

The Forsyth director's boyish enthusiasm helped to sell Mul-lenix on the 
move. I was very impressed with Dr. Hein, she said. He was like a kid in 
a candy store. He couldnt wait for us to use the new methodology and 
apply it to some of the materials dentists work with. 


Phyllis Mullenixs transfer to Forsyth was a move to one of Bos- 
tons most prestigious medical centers. The Forsyth Dental 
Infirmary for Children was established in 1910 to provide free 
dental care to Bostons poor children. By 1982, when Dr. Mullenix 
accepted Jack Heins invitation, the renamed Forsyth Dental Center 
was affiliated with Harvard Medical School and had become one of 
the best-known centers for dental research in the world. 

At the helm was Forsyth s director, Jack Hein, a well-known figure 
in American dental research. Hein had attended the University of 
Rochester in the 1950s, and there he had helped to develop the fluoride 
compound sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP). Colgate soon added 
MFP to its toothpaste, and Jack Hein became the company's dental 
director in 1995. When he came to Forsyth in 1962, Hein was part of 
the new order in reshaping American dentistry — a changing of the 
guard then taking place in many dental schools and research centers.' 
Like Jack Hein, the new generation of leaders was uniform in its 
support of fluorides use in dentistry.' 

Forsyth had read the tea leaves well. While a previous Forsyth 
director, Veikko O. Hurme, had been an outspoken opponent of 
adding fluoride to public water supplies, Jack Heins support came 
at the same time that Colgate poured cash into new facilities and 
fluoride research at Forsyth.' Additional funds came from research 
grants from other private corporations and from the federal National 
Institutes of Health (NIH). A sparkling new research annex, built in 
1970, doubled the size of the Forsyth Center, with funds from the 
NIH and major donors, such as Warner Lambert, Colgate 
Palmolive, and Lever Brothers.' 

Jack Heins track record as a fund-raiser for the Forsyth Center 
and his support for fluoride's use in dentistry owed much to his 
membership in an informal old boy's club of scientists who had also 
once done research at the University of Rochester. The University 
had been a leading center for fluoride research in the 1950s and 1960s, 
with many of its graduate students taking leading roles in dental 
schools and research centers around the United States. 

In 1983, a year after Phyllis Mullenix arrived at Forsyth, director 
Hein introduced her to an elderly gentleman who had been Hein's 
professor and scientist mentor some thirty years earlier at the Uni v 
ersity of Rochester. The old man was a researcher with a distin- 


guished national reputation — the first president of the Society of 
Toxicology, Mullenix learned, and the author of scores of academic papers 
and books. His name was Harold Carpenter Hodge, and his impeccable 
manners and formal dress left an indelible impression on Mullenix. 

I was impressed with Harold, she said. He was very gentlemanly. He 
would never say an inappropriate word, and he always wore a white lab 

Hodge had recently retired from the University of San Francisco. Jack 
Hein had brought him to Forsyth for the prestige he would bring to 
Mullenix s new toxicology department, he said, and out of admiration for 
his former professor, who was then in his mid-seventies. "I thought it 
would be fun," Hein added. 

Mullenix grew fond of Hodge. He seemed almost grandfatherly, 
ambling into her laboratory, chatting as her young children frolicked 
alongside. Hodge was especially fascinated by the new computer system 
for testing chemical toxicity. He would fire endless questions at Mullenix 
and her colleague, Bill Kernan from Iowa State University, Mullenix 
remembered. He would quietly come up to my lab. And Harold would ask 
Why are you doing this? and What are you doing? and Bill [Kernan] 
would take great pains to explain every little scientific detail, showing him 
the rat pictures. 

By the early 1980s Jack Heins vision for the Forsyth Center included 
more than just dentistry. The canny fund-raiser believed that the new 
Mullenix technology could become another big money spinner for 
Forsyth — a winning weapon in the high-stakes field of toxic tort litigation, 
in which workers and communities allege they have been poisoned by 
chemicals. "It was an exciting new way of studying neurotoxicity, said 
Jack Hein, who would eventually assign Mullenix to spacious new offices 
and laboratories on the fourth floor of the Forsyth research annex. 

Neurotoxicology was still a young science. If someone claimed to have 
been hurt by a chemical in the workplace or had been exposed in a 
pollution incident, finding the scientific truth was extraordinarily difficult. 
Big courtroom awards against industry often hinged on the subjective 
opinion of a paid expert witness and the unpredictable emotions of a jury, 
said Mullenix. Industries did not like that. They felt that the answers were 
biased, and so the thought of 


taking investigator bias out of the system was very exciting to them. 
They thought this would help [industry] in court, she added. 

The Computer Pattern Recognition System quickly attracted 
attention from other scientists, industry, and the media. The Wall 
Street Journal called the Mullenix technology precise and "objec- 
tive. Some of Americas biggest corporations opened their wallets. 
The medical director of the American Petroleum Institute personally 
gave $70,000 to Mullenix. Monsanto gave $25,000. Amoco and 
Mobil chipped in thousands more, while Digital Equipment Cor- 
poration donated most of the powerful computer equipment. 

Several oil and chemical companies such as Monsanto Co. are 
supporting research on the system, the Wall Street Journal reported. 
" Questions are being raised more frequently about whether there are 
behavioral effects attributable to chemicals, a Monsanto 
toxi-cologist, George Levinskas, told the newspaper. The Forsyth 
system has potential to give a better idea of the effects our 
chemicals might have," he added.' 

In a letter of recommendation, Myron A. Mehlman, the former 
head of toxicology for the Mobil Oil Corporation, who was then 
working for the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease 
Registry (ATSDR), called the Mullenix technology a milestone for 
testing low levels of exposure of chemicals for neurotoxicity for the 
21st Century.... The benefits of Professor Mullenix discovery to 
Forsyth are enormous and immeasurable. 9 

Industry trusted Phyllis Mullenix. Since the 1970s the toxicologist 
had earned large fees consulting on pollution issues and the legal 
requirements of the Clean Air Act. Hired by the American Petroleum 
Institute, for example, she'd acted as scientific coordinator for that 
lobby group, advising it on proposed and restrictive new EPA 
standards for ozone. "Whenever it got technical they would dance me 
out, she said. Every time EPA came out with another criteria 
document I would look for the errors." 

Mullenix is not apologetic for waltzing with industry. Anybody 
could take her to the ball, she said, explaining, "I did not look at myself 
as a public health individual. I was amazed that the EPA did such 
shoddy work writing a criteria document. I thought that at the very 
least those documents should be factual. 

At Harvard, Mullenix had been criticized by some academics 


for her industry connections, a charge she calls ridiculous. Said Mullenix, 
No one group, be it government, academia or industry, can be right one 
hundred percent of the time. I dont see science as aligning yourself with 
one group. Industry can be right in one respect and they can be very wrong 
in another. 

And Mullenix had other consulting work — for companies such as Exxon, 
Mobil, 3M, and Boise Cascade. Companies including DuPont, Procter and 
Gamble, NutraSweet, Chevron, Colgate-Palmolive, and Eastman Kodak 
all wrote checks supporting a 1987 conference she held titled "Screening 
Programs for Behavioral Toxicity." 

Like many revolutionary ideas, the concept behind the Mul-lenix 
technology for studying central-nervous-system problems was simple. The 
spark of inspiration had come from Dr. Mullenix s graduate advisor at the 
University of Kansas Medical Center, Dr. Stata Norton. A slender and 
soft-spoken woman, Dr. Norton was one of the first prominent female 
toxicologists in the United States. She had won national recognition by 
demonstrating that there were "threshold" levels for the toxic effects of 
alcohol and low-level radia tion on the fetus. Now retired to her summer 
cottage, surrounded by lush Kansas farmland, Dr. Norton's face opened in a 
smile as she remembered her former student. Normally, she said, graduate 
students rotated through the various laboratories at the Medical Center. But 
there was something different about Phyllis Mullenix. 

"Phyllis came into my lab to do a short study — and she never left, " 
Norton recalled, laughing. 

Mullenix had a special willingness to grapple with complex new 
information, Norton said. When Norton was studying the effects of 
radiation on rats, Mullenix wanted to learn how the radiation had 
physically altered the rats' brains. She had never done that work before, 
Norton recalled, but her student stayed late at the lab, poring over medical 
journals, dissecting the rat's brains, and looking for tiny changes caused by 
the radiation. "I don't think she thought it was difficult, said Norton. She 
was happy to jump on the project and get with it." 

There was something else. Norton noticed her student had a fear -less 
quality and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom. The professor 
found it refreshing. "It takes a certain personality to stand up and do 
something different. Science is full of that, all the way from 


Galileo, Norton said. That doesnt mean you are right or you are 
wrong, but I can appreciate that in Phyllis because I am like that." 

In the mid-1970s Stata Norton was a pioneer in the new field of 
behavioral toxicology, inventing new ways for measuring the ways 
chemicals affected behavior. At first Norton studied mice that had 
been trained or conditioned to behave in certain ways by receiving 
food rewards. Some scientists believed that by studying disruptions 
in this "conditioned" behavior, they could most accurately measure 
the toxic effects of different chemicals. 

Norton was not so sure. One day, working with mice that had 
been trained to press a lever for food at precisely timed intervals, 
she suddenly wondered how the animals knew when to press the 
lever. "I looked in the box," she said. Inside she saw that each 
mouse seemed to measure the time between feeding by employing a 
sequence or pattern of simple activities such as sitting, scratching, 
or sniffing. "There was a rhythm," she explained. "They timed it by 
doing things." 

Norton began her own experiments. She wondered if, by study- 
ing changes in this rhythm of "patterned" behavior during the time 
between feeding — as opposed to studying disruptions in the condi- 
tioned behavior exhibited for food rewards — she could get a more 
sensitive measurement of the toxicity of chemicals. Norton and 
Mullenix took thousands of photographs of rats that had been given 
a chemical poison and compared them with similar photographs of 
healthy "control" rats. They were able to detect changes in the 
sequences of the rats' behavior, even at very low levels of chemical 
poisoning. "We were all very excited," said Norton. 

The spirit of independence and free inquiry in Stata Norton's 
laboratory inspired Phyllis Mullenix. It was the kind of environ- 
ment she had grown up in. Her mother, Olive Mullenix, was a 
Missouri schoolteacher who'd ridden sixteen miles on horseback to 
her one-room schoolhouse each day and made her "own" money 
selling fireworks from a roadside stand. Her father, "Shockey" 
Mullenix (he had a shock of white hair), had left the farm with a 
dream to become a doctor. He settled for the workaholic life of a 
gas-station entrepreneur and trader in the small town of Kirksville, 
Missouri and the hope that his three children would realize his 
dreams. The son became a nuclear physicist for the Department of 
Energy; another 


daughter was a corporate Washington lawyer; and the youngest, Phyllis, 
the Harvard toxicologist. 

In the late 1970s the Environmental Protection Agency grew interested 
in the Kansas research. The federal agency wanted a new way of measuring 
the human effects of low-level chemical contamination. The head of the 
EPAs neurotoxicology division, Lawrence Reiter, visited Stata Norton s 
laboratory. Phyllis Mullenix told him that the key to the success of the new 
technique was to speed up the time-consuming process of analyzing each 
frame of film. Mullenix thought that computers could do the job faster. The 
EPA agreed, and Mullenix became a consultant on a $4 million 
government grant awarded to Iowa State computer experts Bill Kernan and 
Dave Hopper. Kernan had worked previously for the Defense Department, 
writing some of its most elegant and sophisticated software. 

I was to train the physicist, said Mullenix. The physicist would train 
the computer. 

Developing the Computer Pattern Recognition System, as Mulle-nixs 
technology became known, took almost thirty years. Dr. Norton had begun 
studying her rats in the 1960s. When she passed the baton to Phyllis 
Mullenix in the 1970s, computers were barely powerful enough to handle 
the vast data-processing requirements for detecting subtle behavior 
changes and measuring chemical poisoning. 

In Boston in the mid-1980s Mullenix grew incredibly busy. She now 
had two young daughters. She was consulting for industry. Her husband, 
Rick, was completing training as an air-traffic controller. And her father 
was seriously ill with emphysema 1500 miles away in Kirksville, Missouri. 

Her Forsyth laboratory buzzed with activity. The new computers were 
hooked up by telephone to big data-processing units at Iowa State. By late 
1987 the Computer Pattern Recognition System was almost ready. Forsyth 
printed brochures, touting a system that promised to "prevent needless 
exposure of the general public to the dangers of neurotoxicity, and industry 
to exaggerated litigation claims." Mullenix soon became a national 
pitchwoman for Forsyth, proclaiming a new day for corporations that 
feared lawsuits from workers and communities for chemical exposures. "I 
was hopped all over the country giving seminars on how this 
computerization was going to help the industrial situation, she said. 


Director Jack Hein was anxious to illustrate the sensitivity of the 
new machine. He suggested that Mullenix start with fluoride, giving 
small doses to rats and testing them in the equipment. The longtime 
fluoride supporter wanted to test fluoride first, he said, in order to 
bolster the chemicals public image. I was really interested in proving 
there were no negative effects," Hein said. "It seemed like a good way 
of negating the antifluoridationist arguments." 

Mullenix shrugged. She didn't much care about fluoride. 
Secretly she thought that fluoride was a waste of her time and that 
Jack Hein was overreacting. "At Harvard the rule is publish or 
perish. And I didn't think that I would come up with anything that 
would be worth publishing," she said. "I'm used to studying 
hard-core neu-rotoxic substances, drugs like anticonvulsants, 
radiation, where it can totally distort the brain. I never heard 
anything about fluoride, except TV commercials that it is good for 
your teeth." 

Hein introduced her to another young dental researcher, Pamela 
DenBesten, who had recently arrived at Forsyth. DenBesten was 
studying the white and yellow blotches, or mottling, on tooth enamel 
caused by fluoride known as dental fluorosis. Although Mullenix was 
lukewarm to the idea of using fluoride to test for central-ner- 
vous-system effects, DenBesten was more curious. She had noticed 
that when she gave fluoride to rats for her tooth-enamel studies, they 
did not behave "normally." While it was usually easy to pick up 
laboratory rats, the animals that had been fed fluoride would " 
practically jump out of the cage," DenBesten said. 

The two women worked well together. Phyllis would often 
bring her two young daughters to work, and the Mullenix 
laboratory on the fourth floor became a sanctuary from the 
predominantly male atmosphere at Forsyth. DenBesten knew that 
Phyllis Mullenix had few friends at Forsyth. Many of the other 
researchers were hostile to the plainspoken toxicologist. 
DenBesten describes it as "gender-discrimination type stuff." 10 

Another Forsyth scientist, Dr. Karen Snapp, quickly made 
friends with Phyllis Mullenix. "I was always told that Phyllis was 
the batty woman up in the tower on the fourth floor, said Snapp. 
I ran into her at lunch one day in the cafeteria. We started chatting, 
then we went out and had a coke together. Snapp found Mullenix 
refreshing, both for the quality of her science and her plainspoken 


manner. She didnt bow down to the powers that be at Forsyth. A lot of 
people put up fronts and are very pious, and Phyllis was not that way at 
all — that is what I liked about her. She was very honest, very 
straightforward, you knew exactly where you stood, Snapp explained. 

Snapp was also impressed with the rigor Mullenix brought to her 
scientific experiments. She was very, very thorough. She at times had no 
idea what the outcome of an experiment was going to be. If she did an 
experiment and didn't get the result she thought she should get, she'd repeat 
it to make sure it was right, and [if the unexpected data held up] it s like, 
well — we change the hypothesis. 

If Phyllis Mullenix was at first nonchalant about testing fluoride for 
central-nervous-system effects, that was not the attitude of perhaps the 
oldest boy at the Forsyth Center. She found that Dr. Harold Hodge, the 
affable old man in the freshly pressed lab coat, took what then seemed an 
almost obsessive interest in her fluoride work, firing endless questions 
about her methodology. 

He wanted to push me to do certain fluoride studies, and do this and do 
that, and how can I help? said Mullenix. 

Fireworks at Forsyth 

The two white-coated scientists stared at each other, startled. High above 
Boston, surrounded by computer terminals and data printouts and the 
bright lights of a modern toxicology laboratory, Phyllis Mullenix and 
Pamela DenBesten fell suddenly silent. Only the white rats in their cages 
scuttered and sniffed. The information slowly sank in. The scientists had 
repeated their experiment and, once again, the results were the same. They 
laughed, nervously. 

"Oh shit," Dr. Phyllis Mullenix finally blurted out. "We are going to 
piss off every dentist in the country." 

BY 1989 th Mullenix team was getting its first results from the fluoride 
experiments. They had been gathering data for two years, giving the rats 
moderate amounts of fluoride, monitoring them in their cages, and then 
analyzing the data in the RAPID computer system, as her new technology 
was known. But something was wrong. The results seemed strange. 

"Data was coming back that made me shake my head," said Mul-lenix. 
It wasnt at all what we expected. Mullenix had expected that giving 
fluoride in drinking water would show no effect on the rats' behavior and 
central nervous system. Mullenix wondered if the problem was a bug in the 
new machinery. The team launched an exhaustive series of control 
experiments, which showed that the RAPID computers were working fine. 
All the results were "amazingly consistent," said Mullenix. 

Fluoride added to their drinking water produced a variety of effects in 
the Forsyth rats. Pregnant rats gave birth to hyperactive 


babies. When the scientists gave fluoride to the baby rats following their 
birth, the animals had cognitive deficits, and exhibited retarded behavior. 
There were sex differences, too. Males appeared more sensitive to 
fluoride in the womb; females were more affected when exposed as 
weanlings or young adults. 

The two women told Jack Hein and Harold Hodge about the results. The 
men ordered them to repeat the experiments, this time on different rats. The 
team performed still more tests. Mullenix remembers that Harold Hodge 
kept asking her about the results, even though he was by now very ill. He 
had gone to his home in Maine but kept in contact by telephone. He asked 
every day. 

By 1990 the data were crystal clear. The women had tested more than 
five hundred rats. "I finally said we have got enough animals here for 
statistical significance, said Mullenix. There is a problem," she added. 

The two women talked endlessly about what they had found. Mullenix 
was a newcomer to fluoride research, but Pamela Den-Besten had spent her 
career studying the chemical. She suspected that they had made an 
explosive discovery and that dentists in particular would find the 
information important. My initial gut reaction was that this is really big, 
said DenBesten. Although the Forsyth rats had been given fluoride at a 
higher concentration than people normally drink in their water — an 
equivalent of 5 parts per million as opposed to 1 part per 
million — DenBesten also knew that many Americans are routinely exposed 
to higher levels of fluoride every day. For example, people who drink large 
amounts of water, such as athletes or laborers in the hot sun; people who 
consume certain foods or juices with high fluoride levels; children who use 
fluoride supplements from their dentists; some factory workers, as the 
result of workplace exposure; or certain sick people, all can end up 
consuming higher cumulative levels of fluoride. Those levels of 
consumption begin to approach — or can even surpass, for some 
groups — the same fluoride levels seen in the Forsyth rats. 

"If you have someone who has a medical condition, where they have 
diabetes insipidus where you drink lots of water, or kidney 
disease — anything that would alter how you process fluoride — then you 
could climb up to those levels, said DenBesten. She thought that the 
Forsyth research results would quickly be followed up by 


a whole series of additional experiments examining, for example, whether 
fluoride at even lower levels, 1 part per million, produced 
central-nervous-system effects. "I assumed it would take off on its own, 
that a lot of people would be very concerned, she added. 

Jack Hein was excited as well, remembers Mullenix. (Harold Hodge had 
died before she could get the final results to him.)' Hein said, I want you to 
go to Washington, Mullenix said. Go to the National Institute of Dental 
Research and give them a seminar. Tell them what you are finding. 

Jack Hein knew that if more research on the toxicity of low-dose 
fluoride was to be done, the government's National Institutes of Health and 
the U. S. Public Health Service needed to be involved. 

THE CAMPUS-STYLE GROUNDS of the federal National Institutes of 
Health (NIH), just north of Washington DC, have the leafy spaciousness of 
an Ivy League college. White-coated scientists and government 
bureaucrats in suits and ties stroll the tree-lined walkways that connect 
laboratories with office buildings. This is the headquarters of the U.S. 
governments efforts to coordinate health research around the country, with 
an annual budget of $23.4 billion forked out by US taxpayers. 2 The campus 
is the home of the different NIH divisions, such as the National Cancer 
Institute and the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR), as it was 
then known. (Today it is known as the National Institute of Dental and 
Craniofacial Research.) 

On October to, 1990, Phyllis Mullenix and Jack Hein arrived at the NIH 
campus to tell senior government scientists and policy makers about her 
fluoride research. As director of the nation's leading private dental-research 
institute, Jack Hein was well-known and respected at NIH. He had helped 
to arrange the Mullenix lecture. Mullenix was no stranger to public-health 
officials either. One of the Institutes' biggest divisions, the National Cancer 
Institute, had awarded her a grant that same year totaling over $600,000. 
The money was for a study to investigate the neurotoxic effects of some of 
the drugs and therapies used in treating childhood leukemia. Many of those 
drugs and radiation therapies can slow the leukemia but are so powerful 
that they often produce central-nervous-system effects and can retard 
childhood intelligence. The government 


wanted Mullenix to use her new RAPID computer technology at Forsyth 
to measure the neurotoxicity of these drugs. 

To present her fluoride data, Mullenix and Hein had flown from Boston, 
arriving a little early. Hein met up with some old friends from NIDR, while 
Mullenix strolled into the main hospital building on the Bethesda campus, 
killing time before her seminar. In the hallway, the scientist started to 
giggle. On the wall was a colorful posterboard display, recently mounted 
by NIH officials, titled The Miracle of Fluoride. 

"I thought how odd," remembered Mullenix. "It's 1990 and they are 
talking about the miracle of fluoride, and now I'm going to tell them that 
their fluoride is causing a neurotoxicity that is worse than that induced by 
some cases of amphetamines or radiation. I'm here to tell them that fluoride 
is neurotoxic." 

She read on. Ironically, her trip to Washington fell on the historic 
fortieth anniversary of the Public Health Service's endorsement of 
community water fluoridation. Mullenix knew little about fluoride's history. 
The chemical had long been the great white hope of the NIDR, once 
promising to vanquish blackened teeth in much the same way that 
antibiotics had been a magic bullet for doctors in the second half of the 
twentieth century, beating back disease and infection. 

Terrible teeth had stalked the developed world since the industrial 
revolution, when the whole-grain and fiber diet of an earlier agrarian era 
was often replaced by a poorer urban fare, including increased quantities of 
refined carbohydrates and sugars.' Cavities are produced when bacteria in 
the mouth ferment such sugars and carbohydrates, attacking tooth enamel, 
with the resulting acid penetrating into the tooth's core. Hope of a simple 
fix for bad teeth arrived in the 1930s, when a Public Health Service dental 
researcher named Dr. H. Trendley Dean reported finding fewer dental 
cavities in some parts of the United States, where there is natural fluoride in 
the water supply. Dean's studies became the scientific underpinning for 
artificial water fluoridation, which was begun in the 1940s and 1950s. 
Dean also became the first head of the NIDR. By the 1960s and 1970s, with 
rates of tooth decay in free fall across the United States, dental officials 
pointed a proud finger at the fluoride added to water and toothpaste. NIDR 
officials revered H. Trendley Dean as the father of fluoridation." 


"It was a major discovery by the Institute, said Jack Hein. 

But opposition to fluoridation had been intense from the start. The 
postwar decline in rates of dental decay in developed nations had also 
occurred in communities where fluoride was not added to drinking 
water and had begun in some cases before the arrival of fluoride 
toothpaste.' Widespread use of antibiotics, better nutrition, improved 
oral hygiene, and increased access to dental care were also cited as 
reasons. And while medical and scientific resistance to fluoridation 
had been fierce and well-argued — the grassroots popular opposition 
was in many ways a precursor of todays environmental 
movement — Mullenix found the NIH's posterboard account of 
antifluoridation history to be oddly scornful. "They made a joke about 
antifluoridationists all being little old ladies in tennis shoes," she said. 
"That stuck in my mind." 

Since Deans day laboratory studies have forced a revolution in 
official thinking about how fluoride works.' While early researchers 
speculated that swallowed fluoride was incorporated "systemi-cally" 
into tooth enamel even before the tooth erupted in a child's 
mouth — making it more resistant to decay — scientists now believe 
that fluoride acts almost exclusively from outside the tooth, or "topi- 
cally" (such a "topical" effect has always been the explanation for how 
fluoride toothpaste functions, too). This new research says that 
fluoride defends teeth by slowing the harmful "demineralization" of 
calcium and phosphate from tooth enamel, which can leave teeth 
vulnerable to cavities. Fluoride also helps to remineralize enamel by 
laying down fresh crystal layers of calcium and a durable fluoride 
compound known as fluorapatite. And there is a third "killer" effect, in 
which the acid produced from fermenting food combines with fluoride, 
forming hydrogen fluoride (HF). This powerful chemical can then 
penetrate cell membranes, interfering with enzyme activity, and 
rendering bad bacteria impotent.' 

I still believe that fluoride works, says the Canadian dental 
researcher turned critic of water fluoridation, Dr. Hardy Limeback. 
It works topically. 

But these new ideas have not quenched the old debate. Dental 
officials now argue that water fluoridation produces a lifelong benefit 
not just for children; by bathing all teeth in water, officials argue, 
fluoride is continually repairing and protecting tooth enamel in 


teeth of all ages. Critics worry, however, that if hydrogen fluoride can 
inhibit bacteria enzymes in the mouth, then swallowing fluoride may 
unintentionally deliver similar killer blows to necessary bodily enzymes, 
thus also inhibiting the ones we need.' 

Phyllis Mullenix, reading the NIH fluoride posters and preparing to 
give her speech on that fall day in 1990, knew almost nothing of the history 
of controversy surrounding fluoride. She was about to walk into the lion s 
den. She was stunned when she entered the lecture hall at the National 
Institutes of Health. It was packed. There were officials from the Food and 
Drug Administration. She spotted the head of the National Institute of 
Dental Research, Dr. Harald Loe, and she noticed men in uniform from 
the Public Health Service. 

The lights dimmed. Mullenix told them about the new RAPID 
computer technology at Forsyth. At first the audience seemed excited. 
Then she outlined her fluoride experiment. She explained that the 
central-nervous-system effects seen in the rats resembled the injuries seen 
when rats were given powerful antileukemia drugs and radiation therapies. 
The pattern of central-nervous-system effects on the rats from fluoride 
matched perfectly, she said. 

The room fell suddenly quiet. She attempted a joke. I said, I may be a 
little old lady, but Im not wearing tennis shoes, she remembers. Nobody 
was laughing. In fact, they were really kind of nasty. 
The big guns from the NIH opened up. Hands shot into the air. They 
started firing question after question, attacking me with respect to the 
methodology," remembered Mullenix. She answered their ques tions 
patiently, and finally, when there were no more hands in the air, she and 
Jack Hein climbed into a cab and headed for the airport. Jack Hein is 
reluctant to discuss these long-ago events. It was a messy ending to his 
career. He retired from Forsyth the following year, in 1991. He agrees that 
the Mullenix fluoride results were unpopular but adds that data showing 
fluoride damage to the central nervous system should have been 
"vigorously" followed up. " That perspective had never been looked at 
before," he remarks. "It turned out there was something there. Hein 
believes that getting the NIDR and the government to change their position 
on fluoride, however, is a difficult task. Many senior public-health officials 
have devoted their professional careers to promoting fluoride. NIDR really 
fought hard showing that fluoride was effective, Hein says. 


"It was a major discovery by the Institute. They did everything they 
could to promote it. " 

Hein made a final effort to sound a warning on fluoride. He told 
Mullenix that he was going to call a meeting of industry officials 
whose products contained fluoride. Like Mullenix, Hein had spent a 
career cultivating ties with various large-scale industries. He sent her 
a note listing the people who are coming for a private Fluoride 
Toxicity conference that would be held in his Forsyth office. He 
said, ~NIDR were being stupid, the industries will respond better, 
Mullenix recalls. 

Several months after the Washington seminar, Phyllis Mullenix 
sat at the table in Jack Hein s office with representatives from three of 
the worlds most powerful drug companies: Unilever, 
Colgate-Palmolive, and SmithKline Beecham. Anthony Volpe, 
Colgate-Palmolive s Worldwide Director of Clinical Dental Research, 
was there, and so was Sal Mazzanobile, Director of Oral Health 
Research for Beecham. The senior scientist Joe Kanapka was sent by 
the big transnational company Unilever. 

Mullenix outlined her fluoride findings. The men took notes. 
Suddenly Joe Kanapka of Unilever leaned back in his chair with an 
exasperated look. "He said, Do you realize what you are saying to us, 
that our fluoride products are lowering the IQ of children? 
remembers Mullenix. And I said, Well yes, that is what I am saying 
to you.'" As they left, the men "slapped me on the back," Mullenix 
said, telling her, "We will be in touch, we need to pursue this." 

The next day a note from Jack Hein's office arrived with the tele- 
phone numbers of the industry men, so that she could follow up. "I did 
call them," says Mullenix. "And I called. And the weeks went by and 
the months went by." Eventually Joe Kanapka from Unilever called 
back, she remembers. "He says, T gave it to my superiors and they 
haven t gotten back to me. 

Contacted recently, Joe Kanapka said that he had visited Forsyth 
many times" but had no memory of the fluoride conference. When 
asked if he had once worried that his products might be hurting 
children's intelligence, he replied, "Oh God, I don't remember any- 
thing like that, Im sorry. He explained that open-heart surgery had 
temporarily impaired his memory. I dont remember who Mullenix 
is," he added. 


Beechams Sal Mazzanobile remembers the meeting. The fluoride data 
presented that day were preliminary, he recalled. Mullenix never called 
him again, he claims, and he therefore presumed her data were inaccurate. 
I cant see why, if somebody had data like that, they would not follow up 
with another study in a larger animal model, maybe then go into humans, 
he said. It could be a major health problem. 

Did the director of consumer brands at Beecham — makers of several 
fluoride products — call Mullenix himself or find out if her data were ever 
published? "I wasn't the person responsible to follow up, if there was a 
follow-up," Mazzanobile answered. He did not remember who at Beecham, 
if anybody, might have had responsibility for keeping apprised of the 
Mullenix research. 

Procter and Gamble followed up on Mullenix's warning. They flew her 
out to their Miami Valley laboratories in Cincinnati. Mullenix flew home 
with a contract and some seed money to begin a study to look at the effects 
of fluoride on children s intelligence. Shortly afterward, however, "they 
pulled out and I never heard from them again, recalls Mullenix. 

In 1995 Mullenix and her team published their data in the scientific 
journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology. Their paper explained that, while 
a great deal of research had already been done on fluoride, almost none had 
looked at fluorides effects on the brain. And while earlier research had 
suggested that fluoride did not cross the crucial blood brain barrier, thus 
protecting the central nervous system, Mullenix's findings now revealed 
that "such impermeability does not apply to chronic exposure situations." 9 

When the baby rats drank water with added fluoride, the scientists had 
measured increased fluoride levels in the brain. And more fluoride in the 
brain was associated with "significant behavioral changes" in the young 
rats, which resembled "cognitive deficits," the scientists reported. The 
paper also suggested that when the fluoride was given to pregnant rats, it 
reached the brain of the fetus, thus producing an effect resembling 
hyperactivity in the male newborns. 

The Mullenix research eventually caught the attention of another team 
of Boston scientists studying central-nervous-system problems. They 
produced a report in 2000 reviewing whether toxic chemicals had a role in 
producing what they described as an epidemic 


of developmental, learning and behavioral disabilities in children. 
Their report considered the role of fluoride, and focused on the 
Mullenix research in particular. In Harms Way — Toxic Threats to 
Child Development by the Greater Boston chapter of Physicians for 
Social Responsibility described how 12 million children (17 percent) 
in the United States suffer from one or more learning, developmental, 
or behavioral disabilities." Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder 
(ADHD) affects 3 to 6 percent of all school-children, although recent 
evidence suggests the prevalence may be much higher, the scientists 
noted. Not enough is known about fluoride to link it directly to ADHD 
or other health effects, the report pointed out. Nevertheless, the 
existing research on fluoride and its central-nervous-system effects 
were " provocative and of significant public health concern," the team 

The Mullenix research surprised one of the authors of the report, Dr. 
Ted Schettler. He had previously known almost nothing about fluoride. 
It hadnt been on my radar screen, he said. Most startling was how few 
studies had been done on fluorides central-ner vous-system effects. 
Schettler turned up just two other reports, both from China, suggesting 
that fluoride in water supplies had reduced IQ in some villages. That 
just strikes me as unbelievable quite frankly," he said. "How this has 
come to pass is extraordinary. That for forty years we have been 
putting fluoride into the nations water supplies — and how little we 
know about [what] its neurological developmental impacts are.... We 
damn well ought to know more about it than we do." 

Does Mullenix s work have any relevance to children? Schettler 
does not know. Comparing animal studies to humans is an uncertain 
science, he explained. Nor was Schettler familiar with Mullenix's 
computer testing system. But the toxic characteristics and behavior 
of other chemicals and metals, such as lead and mercury, concern 
him. For those pollutants, at least, human sensitivity is much greater 
than in animal experiments; among humans, it is greater in children 
than in adults. The impact of other toxic chemicals on the developing 
brain is often serious and irreversible. 

So is the Mullenix work worth anything? I dont know the answer to 
that," Schettler said. "But what I do draw from it is that it is quite 
plausible from her work and others that fluoride inter- 


feres with normal brain development, and that we better go out to get the 
answers to this in human populations. 

The burden of testing for neurological effects falls on the Public Health 
Service, which has promoted water fluoridations role in dental health for 
half a century. Whenever anybody or any organization attempts a public 
health intervention, there is an obligation to monitor emerging science on 
the issue — and also continue to monitor impacts in the communities where 
the intervention is instituted. So that when new data comes along that says, 
Whoa, this is interesting, here is a health effect that we hadnt thought 
about,' we better have a look at this to make sure our decision is still a 
good one, Schettler said. 

Phyllis Mullenix says that she carried the ball just about as far as she 
could. Following the seminar at NIH, Harald Loe, the director of the 
National Institute of Dental Research, had written to Forsyth's director 
Jack Hein on October 23, 1990, thanking him and Mullenix for their visit 
and confirming "the potential significance of work in this area." He asked 
Mullenix to submit additional requests for funding. "NIDR would be 
pleased to support development of such an innovative methodology which 
could have broad significance for protecting health," Loe wrote. 10 

"I was very excited about that," said Mullenix. "I took their suggestions 
in the letter. [However] every one of them ended up in a dead end.' 
Mullenix now believes that the 1990 letter was a cruel ruse — to cover up 
the fact that the NIH had no interest in learning about fluoride's potential 
central-nervous-system effects. "What they put in writing they had no 
intentions [of funding]. It took years to figure that out," she says. 

Dr. Antonio Noronha, an NIH scientific-review adviser familiar with Dr. 
Mullenix's grant request, says a scientific peer-review group rejected her 
proposal. He terms her claim of institutional bias against fluoride 
central-nervous-system research "farfetched." He adds, We strive very 
hard at NIH to make sure politics does not enter the picture.'" 

But fourteen years after Mullenix s Washington seminar the NIH still 
has not funded any examination of fluoride's central-nervous-system 
effects and, according to one senior official, does not currently regard 
fluoride and central-nervous-system effects as a 


research priority. No, it certainly isnt, said Annette Kirshner, a 
neurotoxicology specialist with the National Institute of Environmental 
Health Studies (NIEHS). Dr. Kirshner confirmed that although our 
mission is to look into the effects of toxins [and] adverse environmental 
exposures on human health, she could recall no grants being given to study 
the central-nervous-system effects of fluoride. "We'd had one or two grants 
in the past on sodium fluoride, but in my time they've not been neuro 
grants, and I've been at this institute about thirteen and a half years." Does 
NIEHS have plans to conduct such research? "We do not and I doubt if the 
other Institutes intend to," said Dr. Kirshner by e-mail. 

Nor do the governments dental experts plan on studying fluorides 
central-nervous-system effects any time soon. In an e-mail sent to me on 
July 19, 2002, Dr. Robert H. Selwitz of the same agency wrote that he was 
"not aware of any follow-up studies" nor were the potential CNS effects of 
fluoride "a topic of primary focus" for government grant givers. Dr. 
Selwitz is the Senior Dental Epidemiologist and Director of the Residency 
Program in Dental Public Health, National Institute of Dental and 
Craniofacial Research, NIH. At first he appeared to suggest that the 
Mullenix study had little relevance for human beings, telling me that her 
rats were "fed fluoride at levels as high as 175 times the concentration 
found in fluoridated drinking water. 

But his statement was subtly misleading. Rats and humans have very 
different metabolisms, and in laboratory experiments these differences 
must be compensated for. The critical measurement in studying effects on 
the central nervous system is not how much fluoride is given to the 
laboratory animals but how much of the chemical, after they drink it, 
subsequently appears in the animals blood. The amount of fluoride in the 
blood of the Mullenix rats — a measurement known as the blood serum 
level — had been the equivalent of what would appear in the blood of a 
human drinking about 5 parts per million of fluoride in water. This, of 
course, is just five times the level the government suggests is optimal for 
fluoridated water- 1 ppm. I asked Dr. Selwitz, therefore, if it was fair to 
portray the Mullenix rats as having drunk 175 times the amount of 
fluoride that citizens normally consume from fluoridated water. 


Wasn't the "blood serum" measurement and comparison more relevant? 
Wasn't his statement, inadvertently at least, misleading? 

Dr. Selwitz, who had just been ready to dispense medical arguments 
and implied reassurances as to why Mullenix's research was not relevant 
to human beings, now explained that he could not answer my question. 
"The questions you are asking in your recent e-mail message involve the 
field of fluoride physiology," wrote the senior dental epidemiologist at 
NIDCR. "This subject is not my area of expertise." 

FAR FROM USHERING in new opportunities for scientific research, 
Mullenixs fluoride studies appear to have spelled the death knell for her 
once-promising academic career. When Jack Hein retired from Forsyth on 
June 30, 1991, the date marked the beginning of a very different work 
environment for Phyllis Mullenix. She gave a seminar at Forsyth on 
February 20, 1992, outlining what she had discovered and explaining that 
she hoped to publish a major paper about fluoride toxicity with Pamela 
DenBesten. "That's when my troubles started," said Mullenix. Pam 
DenBesten had been worried about the Boston seminar. Senior 
researchers at Forsyth, such as Paul DePaola, had published favorable 
research on fluoride since the 196os. The seminar was " ugly," says 
Mullenix. DenBesten describes the scientists' response as "angry" and 
"sarcastic." "She was risking their reputation with NIH," DenBesten 

Karen Snapp remembers "hostile" questioning of Mullenix by the audience. 
"They looked upon Phylliss research as a threat. The dental business in this 
country is focused on fluoride. They felt that funding would dry up. We are 
supposed to be saying that fluoride is good for you, whereas somebody is 
saying maybe it is not good for you. ... In their own little minds, they were 
worried about that." The following day Forsyth's associate director, Don 
Hay, approached Mullenix. "He said, 'You are going against what the 
dentists and everybody have been publishing for fifty years, that this is safe 
and effective. You must be wrong,'" Mullenix recalled. "He told me, You 
are jeopardizing the financial support of this entire institution. If you 
publish these studies, NIDR is not going to fund any more research at 


Karen Snapp also remembers Don Hay as opposing publication of 
the paper. "He didn't believe the science. He didn't believe the 
results — and he did not think the paper should go out." Both Snapp 
and Mullenix were concerned that somehow Don Hay would prevent 
the paper from being published. "I think we were even laughing about 
it, saying I think in America we have something called freedom of the 
press, freedom of speech?" Snapp recalls. 

Don Hay calls allegations that he considered suppressing the 
Mullenix research "false." He told "My concern was that 
Dr. Mullenix, who had no published record in fluoride research, was 
reaching conclusions that seemed to differ from a large body of 
research reported over the last fifty years. We had no knowledge of 
the acceptance of her paper prior to the time she left [Forsyth] ." 

Editor Donald E. Hutchings of Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 
where the Mullenix paper was published, says that there was no effort 
to censor or pressure him in any way. Her study was first "peer 
-reviewed" by other scientists, revised, and then accepted. "Was I 
called and told that 'If you publish this we are going to review your 
income taxes, [or] send you a picture of J. Edgar Hoover in a dress?' 
No," he said. Hutchings was a little bemused, however, to get such a 
critical paper on fluoride from a Forsyth researcher. He knew that 
Forsyth had long been a leading supporter of a role for fluoride in 
dentistry. "It almost strikes me like you are working in a distillery and 
you are doing work studying fetal alcohol syndrome. That is not work 
that they are going to be eager to be sponsoring. I didn't care — it 
wasn't my career. I thought it was really courageous of her to be doing 

On May 18,1994 — Just days after the paper had been accepted — 
Forsyth fired Mullenix. The termination letter merely stated that her 
contract would not be renewed. There was no mention of fluoride. A 
new regime was now installed at the Center. The toxicology 
department was closed, and a new Board of Overseers had been 
established, with the mission "to advise the Director in matters 
dealing with industrial relationships." 14 

Mullenix describes the final couple of months at Forsyth as the 
lowest ebb in her career. The big grant from the National Cancer 
Institute had dried up and her laboratory conditions were horrible, she 
said. "The roof leaked, they destroyed the equipment, they 


destroyed the animals. That was the lowest point, right before I physi cally 
moved out in July 1994. Nobody would even talk to me. 

Her mother remembers Phyllis calling frequently that summer. She was 
very upset about it, said Olive Mullenix. At first she wondered if her 
daughter had done something wrong. Phyllis explained that her fluoride 
research had been unpopular. There was no use to get angry, said Olive 
Mullenix. She was honest about what she found and they didn't like it." 

Stata Norton got calls too from her former student. Norton was not 
surprised at the hostile response from Forsyth. She knew that clean data 
can attract dirty politics. There are situations in which people don't want 
data challenged, they don't want arguments," said Norton. 

The implications of Mullenix s work have been buried, according to her 
former colleague, the scientist Karen Snapp. Is it fair to say that we don't 
know the answer to the central-nervous-system effects of the fluoride we 
currently ingest? I think that Phyllis got just the tip of the iceberg. There 
needs to be more work in that area, Snapp said. 

Jack Hein wishes that he had approached things differently. He knew 
that the scientific landscape of the last fifty years was littered with the 
bodies of a lot of people who, like Phyllis Mullenix, got tangled up in the 
fluoride controversy. His team should have tested other dental materials 
before tackling fluoride, said Hein. It would have been better if we had 
done mercury and then fluoride," 
he said. Less controversial. 

It would have made no difference, believes Mullenix. Nor does she 
believe another scientist would have been treated differently. She had 
stellar academic credentials, powerful industry contacts, and hard scientific 
data about a common chemical. "That is the sad part of it," she said. "I 
thought I had the people back then. I thought you could reason one scientist 
to another. I don't know that there is anything I could have done differently, 
without just burying the information." 

Mullenix no longer works as a research scientist. Since her fluoride 
discovery at Forsyth a decade ago, she has received no funding or research 
grants. "I liked studying rats," she said. "I probably would have continued 
working with the animals my entire life. Now, she added, I dont think I 
will ever get to work in a laboratory again. 


Jack Hein and Pamela DenBesten knew about fluorides bizarre 
undertow, one that could pull and snatch at even the most established 
scientist, and they were able to swim free from the Forsyth shipwreck But 
Mullenix was dragged down by a tide that no one warned her about. "I 
didnt understand the depth, she said. And to me, in my training, you pay 
no attention to that. The data are the data and you report them and you 
publish and you go from there. 

Mullenix is disappointed at the response of her fellow scientists. Jack 
Hein walked off into the sunset of retirement. Most of her former 
colleagues were reluctant to support her call for more research on fluoride, 
she said. Instead of saying maybe scientifically we should take another 
look, everybody took cover, they all dove into the bushes and wouldn't 
have anything to do with me." 

Olive Mullenix did not raise her daughter that way. You cant just walk 
away from something like this, Phyllis Mullenix said. I mean, they had to 
find out that thalidomide was wrong and change. Why should fluoride be 
any different? 

"A Spooky Feeling" 

ONE HOT JULY evening in 1995 the phone rang. Dr. Phyllis Mulle-nix 

was in her office, upstairs in her Andover, Massachusetts, home. Scientific 

papers were strewn on the floor. She had been depressed. Her firing from 

Forsyth the previous summer had hit the family hard. Her daughters were 

applying to college ; she and her husband, Rick, were quarreling about 


She lifted the receiver. A big bass voice boomed an apology from New 
York City for calling so late. Mullenix did not recognize the speaker. She 
settled back into her favorite white leather armchair. Joel Griffiths 
explained that he was a medical writer in Manhattan. He had a request. 
Would Mullenix look at some old documents he had discovered in a U.S. 
government archive? The papers were from the files of the Medical Section 
of the Manhattan Project, the once supersecret scientific organization that 
had built the worlds first atomic bomb. 

Mullenix rolled her eyes. It was late. Rick, now an air traffic controller, 
was trying to sleep in the next room. The atom bomb, Mul-lenix thought! 
What on earth did that have to do with fluoride? 


Mullenixs own patience was growing thin. Since her research had 
become public, she had been bombarded with phone calls and letters from 
antifluoride activists. Some of the callers had been battling water 
fluoridation since the 1950s. Late-night radio talk shows were especially 
hungry to speak with the Harvard scientist who thought that fluoride was 
dangerous. They called her at three or four in the morning from across the 
country and overseas. Usually "there was no thank you note, and you never 
heard from them again," Mullenix said. 

The New York reporter dropped a bombshell. Dr. Harold Hodge, 
Mullenixs old laboratory colleague, was described in the documents as the 
Manhattan Projects chief medical expert on fluoride, Griffiths told her. 
Workers and families living near atomic-bomb factories during the war 
had been poisoned by fluoride, according to the documents, and Harold 
Hodge had investigated. 

Mullenix felt a sudden "spooky" feeling. She shifted in her chair. 
Harold Hodge was now dead, but as the journalist continued, Mullenix 
cast her mind back to the days in her Forsyth laboratory with the kind old 
gentleman, the grandfatherly figure who had some-times played with her 

"All he did was ask questions," she told Griffiths. "He would sit there 
and he would nod his head, and he would say, You don't say, you don't say. 
Once, Mullenix recalled, as Hodge watched her experiments, he had briefly 
mentioned working for the Manhattan Project. But he had never said that 
fluoride had anything to do with nuclear weapons — or that he had once 
measured the toxic effects of fluoride on atomic-bomb workers. Yes, 
Mullenix told the journalist, she wanted to see the documents. 

Some days later a colleague of Griffiths s arrived at the Mullenix home. 
Clifford Honicker handed her a thick folder of documents. Honicker was 
part of a small group of researchers and reporters who had unearthed many 
of the ghoulish medical secrets of the Manhat tan Project and the Atomic 
Energy Commission. Those secrets had included details about scores of 
shocking cold-war human radiation experiments on hospital patients, 
prisoners, pregnant women, and retarded children. 

For years the media had ignored the information about human 
experimentation that Honicker and others were discovering. Finally, 


in 1995, an investigative journalist named Eileen Welsome had won a 
Pulitzer Prize for revealing how atomic-bomb-program doctors had 
injected plutonium into hospital patients in Tennessee and New York. 
She uncovered the names of the long-ago victims. Harold Hodge had 
planned and supervised many of those experiments, the documents 
showed. President Bill Clinton ordered an investigation. His energy 
secretary, Hazel O'Leary, began a new policy of openness. And 
Honicker and others had gained access to newly declassified cold-war 
documents — including much of the new information on fluoride. 

That night, after Honicker left, Mullenix settled in her chair and 
began to read. Her face drained as she read one memo in particular. 
The fifty-year-old document mentioned Harold Hodge — and dis- 
cussed fluorides effects on the brain and central nervous system. It 
was the same work she had done at the Forsyth Dental Center. 

"I went white. I was outraged," said Mullenix. "I was hollering 
and pacing the floor. He wrote this memo saying that he knew 
fluoride would affect the central nervous system!" 

The central-nervous-system memo — stamped "secret" — is 
addressed to the head of the Manhattan Projects Medical Section, 
Colonel Stafford Warren, and dated April 29, 1944 It is a request to 
conduct animal experiments to measure the central-nervous-system 
effects of fluoride. Dr. Harold Hodge wrote the research proposal. 

"Clinical evidence suggests that uranium hexafluoride may have a 
rather marked central nervous system effect. ... It seems most likely 
that the F [code for fluoride] component rather than the T [code for 
uranium] is the causative factor," states the memo. 15 

A light flashed on for Mullenix. At the time, in 1996, she was still 
sending grant requests to the National Institutes of Health in 
Washington, DC, asking to continue her studies on fluoride's 
central-nervous-system effects. A panel of NIH scientists had turned 
down the application, flatly telling her, "Fluoride does not have 
central nervous system effects." Mullenix realized the absurdity of 
what she had been doing. Harold Hodge and the government had sus- 
pected fluorides toxic effects on the human central nervous system 
for half a century. 

She read on. The 1944 memo explained why research on fluorid 
e's central-nervous-system effects was vital to the United States' 


war effort. Since work with these compounds is essential, it will be 
necessary to know in advance what mental effects may occur after 
exposure. . . . This is important not only to protect a given individual, but 
also to prevent a confused workman from injuring others by improperly 
performing his duties. 

All of a sudden it dawned on me, said Mullenix. Harold Hodge, back 
in the 1940s, had asked the military to do a study that I had done at 
Forsyth.... Hodge knew this fifty years ago. Why didnt he tell me what he 
was interested in? Why didnt he say to me, This stuff, I know, is a 
neurotoxin?'" All he did was ask questions, and he would sit there and he 
would nod his head and he would say, You dont say, you dont say. He 
never once said, I know it is a neuro-toxin, I know it causes confusion, 
lassitude, and drowsiness. 

Today Mullenix calls Harold Hodge a monster for his human-radiation 
experiments. In retrospect she compares sharing a laboratory with him with 
being in a movie theater, sharing popcorn with the Boston Strangler. 

Had the two Rochester alumni — Jack Hein and Harold Hodge — 
manipulated the toxicologist to perform the fluoride studies that Hodge had 
proposed fifty years earlier, she wondered. Did they let Mullenix take the 
fall when her experiments proved what Hodge had already suspected? At 
first, Mullenix had shown no interest in studying fluoride, she remembered. 
It seems strange that a neuro-toxicology person was brought into a dental 
institution to look at fluoride, Mullenix said. I felt that I had really been 
lied to, or led along," she added, "used like a little puppet." 

Mullenix called up Jack Hein. He denied knowing anything about 
Harold Hodges long-ago Manhattan Project fears that fluoride was a 
neurotoxin, she said. And instead, he offered to pass the explosive 
information on to the government, telling Mullenix, Shouldnt you tell the 
NIDR — do you want me to help you take it to the NIDR? (Hein may have 
known far more than he told Mullenix, however. In a 1997 interview with 
the United Kingdom s Channel Four television, he disclosed that one of the 
primary concerns of Manhattan Project toxicologists had been fluorides 
effects on the central nervous system.)" 

The next day Dr. Mullenix called the head of the National Institute of 
Dental Research, Dr. Harold Slavkin. She hoped the nations top 


dental officer would be concerned about the wartime memo. Instead, 
she remembers, He got very nasty about it. He basically pushed me 
off, like I was some kind of a crackpot. She thought that NIDR would 
be interested in the memos, that the institute would want to read them. 
But he treated her as if she were some kind of a whacko, she recalls. 
She put the telephone down and a terrible truth dawned on her. The 
public guardians at the National Institutes of Health, like Harold 
Hodge, also had a double identity. It seemed they, too, were keepers of 
cold war national-security secrets — bureaucratic sentries at the 
portcullis of the nuclear-industrial state. 

Opposite Sides of the Atlantic 

Copenhagen: Crucible of Discovery 

KAJ ELI ROHOLM had a passion for life and medicine. The son of a Danish 
sea captain and an immigrant Polish Jew, Roholm shone briefly as one of 
Europe's brightest stars. During the 1920S and 193os, when Copenhagen 
glowed as a crucible of scientific discov ery and Nils Bohr and a cadre of 
physicist disciples laid the theoretical foundation for nuclear fission, Kaj 
Roholm had advanced the healing arts.' 

"He was a very vital and lively person," remembered the 
ninety-five-year-old Georg Brun, who met Roholm almost a lifetime ago, 
when both were young doctors training in a Danish hospital. They had 
talked eagerly about politics, history, and medicine.' Although a handful of 
specialists around the world today remember Roholm for his "great and 
lasting" study of fluoride toxicity, he was also a pio neer in the use of 
biopsy samples to study the human liver, an expert in infectious and 
occupational diseases, and a tireless advocate for public health.' He was 
interested in everything, said Brun. 

As Copenhagen s Deputy Health Commissioner in the late 1930s, the 
thirty-eight-year-old led his fellow doctors in campaigns against diphtheria 
and venereal diseases and in campaigns to improve the health of newborn 
children. He harnessed modern media to his public-health agenda, 
producing films, radio advertisements, posters, and brochures; and he 
arranged for wartime distribution of a hundred thousand copies of his 
pamphlet, What 


Everyone Wants to Know about Infectious Diseases. When the Nazis 
marched into Denmark in April 1940, the doctor remained at his post. 
Although Copenhagen won the wartime reputation of a humane 
city — where Jews escaped much of the violence occurring in other 
occupied European cities — Roholm described occupation conditions 
as "awful." 5 

A quirk in the Earth s geology drew Roholm to fluoride. Virtually 
the entire world s supply of the fluoride-containing mineral known as 
cryolite was found, at the time, in a single deposit beneath the 
Danish colony of Greenland. Cryolite is an Eskimo word meaning 
ice stone. Trade in the brilliant white rock had grown rapidly in the 
early twentieth century, after researchers learned that aluminum 
could be made more cheaply by using electricity to melt the ice stone 
in a glowing-hot pot, along with refined bauxite ore. A great river 
of this aluminum had armed soldiers with munitions and lightweight 
equipment during World War I. 6 

As the cryolite ships arrived in Denmark, the ice stones were hauled 
to the Oresund Chemical Works in Copenhagen, where a heavy cloud 
of cryolite dust filled the factory air and where a medical mystery 
preoccupied doctors. Inside the plant the Danish workers were stricken 
with multiple ailments, including a bizarre crippling of their skeletons 
known as poker back. Professor P. Flemming Moller of the 
Rigshospital suspected that fluoride was responsible; cryolite contains 
more than 50 percent fluoride. In 1932 Moller labeled the disease 
cryolite intoxication and suggested that a young doctoral candidate, 
Kaj Roholm, study the newly discovered condition: 

Roholm seized the challenge with the passion of youth. He lis- 
tened carefully to the complaints of the Copenhagen cryolite work- 
ers, examining them with the use of X-rays. He conducted his own 
laboratory experiments, feeding fluoride to pigs, rats, and dogs in 
order to study its biological effects. A shocking picture emerged of a 
chemical with a venomous and hydra-headed capacity for harm. 
Silently and insidiously fluoride stole into the workers' blood — from 
swallowed dust, Roholm reported, with the poison accumulating in 
teeth, bones, and quite possibly the workers kidneys and lungs.' 
Eighty-four percent of the workers at the cryolite plant had signs of 
osteosclerosis. Their bones sopped up fluoride like sponges, 
wreaking havoc on their skeletons, immobilizing spinal columns, 


ing knees and hips, and even thickening some mens skulls. Half the 
employees had a lung condition known as pulmonary fibrosis and many 
suffered from an emphysema-like affliction." And in a disease process 
that resembled the effects of aging, the workers ligaments grew hard and 
sprouted bony spines, while their bones became lumpy and irregular in 
shape. 1 " Arthritic and rheumatic afflictions have a marked frequency 
among the employees, Roholm stated, and serious stomach problems were 
commonplace; several cryolite workers also had chronic skin rashes and 
pussy sores on their chest and back, especially in the summer. 

Fluoride probably poisoned the central nervous system as well. "The 
marked frequency of nervous disorders after employment has ceased might 
indicate that cryolite has a particularly harmful effect on the central 
nervous system, Roholm noted." He called the disease "fluorine 
intoxication" and suspected that it was fluorine's ability to poison 
enzymes — the chemical messengers that regulate much bodily 
activity — that made it a threat on so many biological fronts. We must 
assume that the effect of fluorine on protoplasm and on enzymatic 
processes is capable of causing profound changes in the metabolism of the 
organism, Roholm added.' 

The scientist also examined fluorides effects on teeth. There had been 
scientific speculation since the nineteenth century that because ingested 
fluoride was deposited in teeth and bone, it was therefore necessary for 
healthy teeth. 13 A team at Johns Hopkins University tested that theory in 
1925, feeding rats fluoride, but found that it made their teeth weaker. 14 
Roholm found the same thing. The workers' teeth he studied were bad, and 
the worst teeth had the most fluoride in them. Lactating mothers in the 
Copenhagen factory had even poisoned their own children; since fluoride 
passed though their breast milk, children who had never been inside the 
plant developed mottled teeth — evidence that mother and child had been 
exposed to an industrial chemical.' 

Roholm's conclusions on fluoride and teeth were blunt. "The once 
general assumption that fluorine is necessary to the quality of the enamel 
rests upon an insufficient foundation. Our present knowledge most 
decidedly indicates that fluorine is not necessary to the quality of that 
tissue, but that on the contrary the enamel organ is electively sensitive to 
the deleterious effects of fluorine," he wrote 


(emphasis in original)." His medical recommendation: "Cessation of the 
therapeutic use of fluorine compounds for children. ' In other words, more 
than sixty years ago the worlds leading fluoride scientist rejected the 
notion that fluoride was needed for stronger teeth, agreeing with earlier 
studies that found that fluoride weakened the enamel — and explicitly 
warning against giving fluoride to children. 

Roholm continued his investigation. He traveled to places where he 
suspected that similar such fluoride intoxication had occurred, and he read 
widely in the great libraries of Berlin and London. A clear picture emerged: 
the scientist saw how fluorides chemical potency had long caused 
problems in the natural world and that its usefulness to modern industry 
was increasingly causing problems in human affairs. 18 In Iceland he saw 
grazing sheep that were emaciated and crippled, their teeth weakened, with 
a disease called gaddur. Their forage had become contaminated with 
fluoride spewed into the biosphere from deep inside the earth during vol- 
canic eruptions. The disease especially injured young animals.' In the 
United States, such natural fluoride had plagued the westward-sweeping 
migrants in Texas, South Dakota, Arizona, and Colorado. These thirsty 
pioneers had sunk wells deep into the desert but drew water that was 
contaminated with fluoride. The poison produced an ugly tooth deformity 
known as Colorado Brown Stain or Texas Teeth. (Today that deformity is 
known by the medical term dental fluorosis and is an early indicator of 
systemic fluoride poisoning. A more severe form of poisoning, produced 
by earth-bound natural fluoride, known as crippling skeletal fluorosis, is 
also widespread in much of the Third World, where lack of nutrition often 
worsens the fluoride's effects.) 

Roholm saw that in the industrial world fluoride had become a bedrock 
for key manufacturing processes; 80 percent of the worlds supply of 
fluorspar, the most commonly used fluoride mineral, was used in metal 
smelting; steel, iron, beryllium, magnesium, lead, alu minum, copper, 
gold, silver, and nickel all used it in production' ( The word fluoride comes 
from the Latin root fluor meaning "to flux or to flow. Fluoride has the 
essential property of reducing the temperature at which molten metal is 
fluxed from superheated ore.) Brickworks, glass and enamel makers, and 


fertilizer manufacturers each used raw materials that included enormous 
volumes of fluoride. And at DuPonts Kinetic Chemicals in New Jersey, 
scientists were giving birth to a new global industry of organic or 
carbon-based fluoride products, engineering man-made fluoride and 
carbon molecules to mass-produce a popular new refrigerant known as 

Roholm saw that what had long befallen the natural world was now 
increasingly happening to human beings, and by their own hand. 
Industry s growing appetite for fluoride presented a special threat to 
workers and surrounding communities. The Dane studied case after case 
in which factory fluoride hurt workers and contaminated surrounding 
areas — and where angry lawsuits had been launched for compensation. In 
Freiburg, Germany, for example, smelters had been compensating their 
neighbors for smoke-damaged vegetation since 1855. In 1907 it was 
finally confirmed that fluoride smoke from those smelters had poisoned 
nearby cattle." Similar damage to plants and cattle was seen elsewhere in 
Europe, near superphosphate fertilizer plants, brickworks, iron foundries, 
chemical factories, and copper smelters." But although the damage was 
widespread, information about its chemical cause was less available. The 
toxicity of fluorine compounds is considerable and little known in 
industry, Roholm wrote. 

Science was partly to blame, he suggested. The industrial revolution, for 
example, had been fueled with coal, which had darkened the skies over 
cities such as Pittsburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and London. But air 
pollution investigators had focused the blame for subsequent 
environmental damage and human injury on sulfur compounds rather than 
on the large quantities of fluoride frequently found in coal.'" 

Roholm suggested that even the century s worst industrial air pollution 
disaster to date, in Belgium's Meuse Valley — which killed sixty people and 
injured several thousand in December 1930 — had been caused by fluoride, 
not sulfur. During the Meuse Valley incident thousands of panicked local 
citizens had scrambled up hillsides to flee choking gases during three days 
of horror. Roholm proposed that fluoride from the nearby factories had 
been trapped by a temperature inversion, then dissolved in moisture and 
carried by particles of soot deep into the victims lungs." Roholm thought 
that disaster 


investigators had overlooked both the toxicity and the prevalence of 
fluoride pollution from nearby zinc, steel, and phosphate plants. He 
calculated that tens of thousands of pounds of the chemical were 
spilled each day from the local factories, etching windows, crippling 
cattle, damaging vegetation, and making citizen lawsuits in the Meuse 
Valley a well known phenomenon. ' 

Roholm singled out the new global aluminum industry. He studied 
a lawsuit against a Swiss manufacturer in which it was alleged that 
fluoride fallout during World War I had hurt cattle and vegetation. 
Animal injury was again found near an Italian aluminum plant in 
1935; the following year scientists found health problems inside a 
Norwegian aluminum smelter, where workers suffered sudden gastric 
pains and vomiting, bone changes, and symptoms resembling 
bronchial asthma.' A special position is occupied by aluminum 
works," Roholm wrote, "inasmuch as the damaged vegetation 
especially has caused secondary animal diseases. 28 He advocated 
government action: Factories giving off gaseous fluorine compounds 
should be required to take measures for their effective removal from 
chimney smoke. 29 

Roholm s monumental 364-page study, Fluorine Intoxication, was 
published in 1937 and was quickly translated into English. It 
contained references to 893 scientific articles on fluoride. The trust 
and cooperation of the Danish cryolite industry was necessary to 
make his study. Nevertheless, the book was a warning to corpora- 
tions: they must pay attention to their factory conditions and to the 
insidious — often misdiagnosed — effects of fluoride on workers. 
Roholm had several clear recommendations for employers and 
doctors, among them: 

• Recognition of chronic fluorine intoxication as an 
occupation disease rating for compensation. 

• Prohibition against employment of females and young people 
on work with fluorine compounds developing dust or vapor. 

• Demand that industrial establishments should neutralize 
waste products containing fluorine. 30 

• A prohibition against the presence of fluorine in patent 
medicine may be necessary.' 


Pittsburgh 1935 

IT WAS A May morning in Pittsburgh, and a watery spring sun struggled 
through the smoky haze. Inside his office at the Mellon Institute, the 
director, Ray Weidlein, put down his newspaper in satisfaction. Several 
dailies had picked up a press release he had recently issued: 

New attack on Tooth Decay ... to be carried on at the Mellon Institute 
headlined a May 1, 1935, example in the Youngstown (OH) Telegram. 
Mellon researchers had "found evidence that the presence of a factor in the 
diet at a crucial period of tooth formation leads to the development of teeth 
resistant to decay, the newspaper proclaimed. A Mellon scientist, Gerald J. 
Cox, was to lead the hunt for the mysterious factor improving teeth, and 
Pittsburgh s well-known Buhl Foundation would fund the research on 

Since tooth decay was a major problem in the industrialized United 
States, the story must have seemed liked good news to most readers, and 
especially to dentists. But the headlines were certainly welcome good press 
for Ray Weidlein. Several of the big industrial corporations who funded the 
Mellon Institutes work had recently been dragged through the pages of the 
nations media with some very unflattering stories — and were increasingly 
under attack from Congress and the courts. That spring Time magazine was 
one of sev eral papers and magazines that had carried accounts of the 
horrific events at Gauley Bridge in West Virginia, where several hundred 
mostly black migrant miners had died from silicosis contracted while 
drilling a tunnel for the Union Carbide Company during 1931-1932. News 
of what would be America's worst industrial disaster to date had filtered 
out from Appalachia slowly, but by 1935 the West Virginia deaths had 
become a full-blown national scandal. Hundreds of lawsuits had been filed 
against Union Carbide and its contractors. Reporters were daily 
scrutinizing the often appalling rates of occupational illness in other 
industries. And sympathetic citizen juries were regularly awarding millions 
of dollars to injured workers, provoking a fullblown financial emergency 
for several leading industrial corporations — and panic among their 
insurers. In January Congress would hold hearings, and Gauley Bridge 
would, for many Americans, come to symbolize a callous disregard by 
powerful corporations for workers health.' 


Ray Weidlein and the Mellon Institute were in full crisis mode that 
spring of 1935, helping Union Carbide and other top corporations 
contain public outrage over the workplace carnage — and head off 
draconian legislation for better pollution control inside factories. The 
corporate strategy was clear: get dominion over basic science, wrestle 
control of health information from labor groups, and in turn, reinvest 
that medical expertise in the hands of industry-anointed specialists. 
These steps were seen as the anti-toxin for the agitation against 
private enterprise, according to one of Weidlein s correspondents." 
The besieged corporations organized a lobbying group known as the 
Air Hygiene Foundation because, as the group noted, "sound laws 
must be based on sound facts"; and, perhaps more importantly, 
because "half a billion dollars in damage suits have been filed against 
employers in occupational 
disease claims." 35 

Headquartered at the Mellon Institute, in 1937 the Air Hygiene 
Foundation had a membership list sporting many of the best-known 
names in industry, including Johns-Manville, Westinghouse, Mon 
santo, U.S. Steel, Union Carbide, Alcoa, and DuPont. And for the 
better part of the next thirty years the organization — later renamed the 
Industrial Hygiene Foundation — would profoundly shape the public 
debate over air pollution, goading members to voluntarily improve 
work conditions inside their factories, thus avoiding legal mandates, 
and sponsoring medical research that bolstered industry's medicolegal 
position in the courtroom. Such research, much of it done at the 
Mellon Institute, was important from both medical and legal 
standpoints in the preparation of court cases," Ray Weidlein stated. 36 

An example of the Foundation's success in influencing the contest 
over air pollution and occupational hazards was the effort to "inves 
tigate" asbestos. One of the Foundation's members, 
Johns-Manville, was a top asbestos producer. The tiny fibers had been 
linked to ill health in workers since 1918. But as late as 1967 Dr. Paul 
Gross was using the Industrial Hygiene Foundation's laboratory 
to conduct influential medical research, permitting Foundation 
members to dispute the claim that asbestos fibers were uniquely 
dangerous. His conclusions were erroneous — reportedly 
suspected as such even by his fellow Mellon scientists — yet 
corporate profits and worker 


pain were prolonged for a generation while the Mellon Institute continued 
grinding out its industry-backed "research."'" We can blame todays flood 
of death and disease in asbestos workers — and the $54 billion in court 
awards against industry — at least partly on the Air Hygiene Foundation 
and the long-ago diligence of the Mellon Institute and its director, Dr. E. R. 
Weidlein. 39 

If Ray Weidlein smiled over the press release heralding Coxs dental 
studies that May morning in 1935, it may have been because no newspaper 
had spotted some important connections — between the tooth research at 
the Mellon Institute and the corporations funding the Air Hygiene 
Foundation lobby group, which was also run, of course, out of the Mellon 
Institute. By the early 1930s a tidal wave of new information about the 
health risk from low-level fluoride exposure was also filling medical 
libraries. Several members of the Air Hygiene Foundation were paying 
particularly close attention. As with silicosis and asbestos claims, big 
corporations were potentially at risk for massive corporate legal 
liability — for the harm caused to workers and communities by industrial 
fluoride exposure. 40 

One Foundation member had particular reason to worry. Tall and 
athletic, the chief scientist for the aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, Francis 
Frary, had studied in Berlin, was fluent in several languages, and would 
personally translate Kaj Roholms fluoride research. 41 Con ditions inside 
Alcoa s smelting plants were brutal, with exposure to chemical agents 
(especially fluorides and carcinogens and, to a lesser degree alumina dusts 
and asbestos insulating materials)" a frequent hazard for workers, 
according to the historian George David Smith. " The effects of fluoride 
emissions was a particular concern of Frary's," Smith noted 42 During the 
1920s and 1930s, African American workers were imported from the Deep 
South for the "killing potroom labor" inside one plant in the company town 
of Alcoa, Tennessee. And at the Niagara Falls plant in upstate New York, 
where Alcoa's mostly immigrant workers were shipped in by train, a health 
study would later confirm that crippled workers were the result of a fluo- 
ride dust hazard that had existed at the plant for years. 43 

Francis Frary was a member of an elite fraternity of officials running 
corporate research labs, a fraternity that would chart the nation's scientific 
progress during the period between the two World Wars. Other members of 
this close-knit group included Charles Ket- 


tering, director of research for General Motors, and the research 
directors of U.S. Steel and DuPont." Those people all knew each 
other; it was a small, relatively select group who headed research labs, 
noted the historian Margaret Graham. 45 

Fluoride's threat to corporate America was laid out in an exhaus 
tive review of the new medical information about fluoride's harmful 
effects, published in 1933 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A 
senior toxicologist, Floyd DeEds, warned of the growing risk from 
industrial fluoride pollution. "Only recently, that is within the last ten 
years," he stated, "has the serious nature of fluorine toxicity been 
realized, particularly with regard to chronic intoxication [a medical 
term for poisoning]. Like Kaj Roholm, the government scientist 
singled out the aluminum 
industry. 46 

DeEds also noted that in 1931 several researchers had, for the first 
time, linked the ugly blotching or mottling seen on teeth in several 
areas of the United States to naturally occurring fluoride in water 
supplies. 47 This new dental information appears to have rung an 
alarm bell for industry. Quietly Alcoa scientists made their own 
investigations. It was not just nature s fluoride that stained teeth, they 
discovered; the company found tooth mottling in children living near 
Alcoa s big aluminum plant in Massena, New York. Crucially, 
however, Alcoa s chemists reported that there was no naturally 
occurring fluoride in the local water. 48 A potential source of the 
fluoride staining children's teeth in Massena was obvious: there was 
little or no pollution control on many early aluminum plants, and 
elsewhere around the country the fluoride waste from these industries 
was routinely dumped in 
nearby rivers. 49 

Mottled teeth in children had become a potential red flag, warning 
citizens and workers of industrial fluoride pollution — and pointing 
directly to a man-made hazard the media had not yet dis-covered. 50 
With public outrage over Gauley Bridge reaching a crescendo in 
1935, several powerful industrial corporations now held their breath, 
hoping to avoid a fresh epidemic of worker lawsuits that this time 
were for fluoride exposure. The potential for litigation against 
industry was mapped for all to see by blotchy marks on c hildren's 
teeth, evidence of "neighborhood fluorisis" in action.' 

Alcoa s research director, Francis Frary, took action. In September 
1935 he approached Gerald Cox, a Mellon Institute researcher, 


at the American Chemical Society's Pittsburgh meeting. Frary now had a 
suggestion that would ultimately transform the public perception of 
fluoride." Though Frary was preoccupied with the "killing" hazards facing 
his Alcoa employees, and the aluminum industry faced lawsuits from 
farmers whose cattle had been injured in the vicinity of the smelters, Frary 
took it upon himself to make a generous suggestion to the Mellon 
researcher. Had Cox ever considered that good teeth might be caused by 

Cox understood that Frary was suggesting that he include fluoride in his 
tooth-decay study. Although this suggestion flew in the face of the results 
from the dental study at Johns Hopkins a decade earlier — which had 
showed that fluoride hurt teeth — nevertheless the Alcoa man's proposal 
was "the first time I ever gave fluorine a thought," Cox later told historian 
Donald McNeil. 53 

The great makeover of fluoride's image had begun. By August 1936 the 
Mellon researcher had given laboratory rats some fluoride and announced 
that the chemical was the mystery "factor" protecting teeth. In 1937 Ray 
Weidlein and Cox published details of their fluoride "discovery" in the 
scientific press. And the following year Cox declared in the Journal of the 
American Medical Association that "the case [for fluoride] should be regarded 
as proved.' Virtually overnight, the Mellon Institute rats had put a smiling 
face on what had been a scientifically recognized environmental and 
workplace poisons' 

The Kettering Laboratory 

FRANCIS FRARY WAS not the only industry scientist who had grown 
interested in children's teeth during those Depression years. In April 1936 
his colleague Charles Kettering, vice president and director of research at 
General Motors, quietly held a meeting in GM's Detroit offices with a 
delegation from the American Dental Association (ADA) and Captain C. 
T. Messner of the U.S. Public Health Service." Kettering seemed an 
unlikely candidate for an interest in teeth; he had become famous and 
wealthy by inventing the electric starter for the automobile. But 
Kettering's laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, was also the birthplace of two 
industrial chemicals that would haunt the twentieth century. And like 
Alcoa's Francis Frary, Kettering was in a unique position to see the health 
risk that 


fluorides posed to American workers — and the potential liability 
facing DuPont and General Motors.' 

Fluoride and lead were twin pillars on which the great wealth of 
both DuPont and General Motors was built. In 1921 Kettering's sci- 
entists had discovered that lead added to gasoline increased engine 
efficiency And in 1928 they patented the fluoride-based Freon gas, 
which was much less toxic at room temperature than were earlier 
refrigerants. But those twin pillars had shaky foundations. Tetra ethyl 
lead (TEL) was so toxic that it killed several of DuPont's New Jersey 
refinery workers, attracted a rash of ugly newspaper headlines, 
and almost resulted in the lucrative product's being banned from the 
market." Similarly, Freon sales quickly stalled following pro-tests 
from the American Standards Association and the New York City Fire 
Department, when it was discovered that when Freon was exposed to 
flame, it decomposed into the nightmarish phosgene and hydrogen 
fluoride gases.' 9 (Phosgene was the same poison gas that had been 
used to monstrous effect in the trenches of World War I.) 

GM and DuPont moved quickly to protect their new products. They 
hired a young scientist at the University of Cincinnati, Robert Arthur 
Kehoe, to perform safety studies on lead at GM's in-house laboratory. 
Kehoe's research — which asserted that lead was found naturally in 
human blood and that there was a "threshold" level below which no ill 
effect would be caused — helped to placate the U.S. Surgeon General 
and "single-handedly spared the leaded gasoline industry from federal 
regulation in the 1920s," according to the historian Lynne Snyder. 60 
"Kehoe's first contract had salvaged a billion dollar industry," wrote 
another Kettering scientist, Dr. William Ashe. 61 The 
thirty-two-year-old was rewarded in 1925 with an appointment as the 
medical director of the Ethyl Corporation, which marketed leaded 
gasoline. 62 

In 1930 Kehoe rode to the rescue again, performing toxicity stud 
ies on Freon. That same year the Ethyl Corporation, DuPont, and the 
Frigidaire Division of General Motors founded a laboratory at the 
University of Cincinnati with a $130,000 donation. It was named the 
Kettering Laboratory of Applied Physiology; a new building was 
erected, and Kehoe was installed as director. 

The dangers of using a potential poison gas in the home — and the 
risk to firefighters in particular — may have seemed obvious, 


but Kehoe argued that a blaze would rapidly disperse any poison that might 
be created, presenting little risk. Thus even from a fire fighting point of 
view . . . the decomposition of [Freon] is not to be regarded as of great 
consequence, he stated.' (More than sixty years after his clash with New 
York firefighters Kehoe s toxic shadow haunted them in the aftermath of 
the World Trade Center terror attack/ Following the buildings collapse, 
rescue workers feared that two enormous tanks of Freon gas that had once 
fed the towers air-conditioning system would rupture and burn in the 
still-smoldering rubble, spewing acid and poison over downtown 
Manhattan.' Although there have been numerous previous reports of 
phosgene poisoning from Freon, mercifully the refrigerant never burned at 
Ground Zero.") 

Kehoe s assurances helped to win the day. A joint venture between GM 
and DuPont, known as Kinetic Chemicals, quickly erected two massive 
Freon manufacturing facilities at DuPont s plant in Deep-water, New 
Jersey. Although Kettering scientists soon measured high levels of 
fluoride in DuPonts New Jersey workers, Freon sales soared from 1.2 to 
18.7 million pounds between 1931 and 1943. Freon became the main 
refrigerant in homes and industry and grossed an estimated $35 million in 
revenue during this period.' 

But new experiments soon discovered just how precarious DuPonts 
exploitation of fluorides might be. The Kettering Laboratory found that 
hydrofluoric acid — the raw material needed to make Freon and the same 
gas produced when the refrigerant was burned — was toxic in very low 
doses." The scientists did not report a level below which toxic effects were 
not seen. The danger to workers who breathed the gas on a daily basis was 
clear. The gas was stealthy. Even at a level that could not be detected by 
smell, it caused "exceptional" injury, including lung hemorrhage, liver dam 
-age, and striking evidences of kidney damage. Animals died when 
exposed to a dose of just 15.2 milligrams per cubic meter ( about 19 parts 
per million). 

That toxicity data was published in September 1935. Six months later 
Charles Kettering met with the American Dental Association. The Freon 
magnate quickly became a member of the ADA s three-person Advisory 
Committee on Research in Dental Caries. That Committee, in turn, 
shepherded publication of Dental 

opposite sides of the Atlantic 43 

Caries — a compendium of dental research from around the world that 
included several references to Gerald Coxs work at the Mellon 
Institute as well as that of other fluoride promoters. Neither Charles 
Kettering s interests in selling industrial fluorides nor the potential 
health risk from fluorides to U.S. workers were ever disclosed to 
readers of Dental Caries. Nor were dentists told that the General 
Motors vice president might have personally funded a portion of the 
ADA's activities." In a letter dated March 16, 1937, the ADAs 
chairman, P. C. Lowery, somewhat cryptically promised Kett that he 
will "secure sufficient information" so that the General Motors vice 
president could, in turn, "furnish the $25,000." In other words, the 
millionaire industrialist with one of the greatest personal stakes in the 
commercial exploitation of fluorides was quietly donating to the dental 
organization that would shortly become one of the most aggressive 
boosters of fluorides use in dentistry. 7 " 

A third connection between industry and some of the earliest 
attempts to link fluoride with dental health can be found in the actions 
of Andrew W. Mellon, who was U.S. Treasury Secretary from 1921 to 
1932. The silver-haired smelter and Pittsburgh banker was also a 
founder of Alcoa and one of its biggest stockholders. In 1930 he 
intervened in efforts to have the Public Health Service support 
researchers at the University of Arizona who were then surveying 
naturally occurring tooth mottling." (The U.S. Public Health Service 
[PHS] was then a division of the Treasury Department.) Mellons 
economic interest was clear. Fluorides legal threat to industry could 
now be seen, literally, in children's smiles. However, linking dental 
mottling to naturally occurring fluoride, in areas far from industry, 
helped to deflect attention from the bad teeth and the myriad other 
health effects caused by industrial fluoride pollution." A young PHS 
researcher named H. Trendley Dean was promptly "ordered" to study 
fluoride. He soon confirmed that natural fluoride in water supplies 
produced dental mottling." But like the industry scientists before him, 
Dean also developed "a hunch that fluoride prevented dental 
cavities. 74 (Following this hunch, Dean later found that natural fluoride 
in the local water supplies apparently correlated with fewer cavities; 
these findings, although much criticized for their scientific method, 
eventually became a foundation for artificial water fluoridation.)' 


Dean departed from Washington in the fall of 1931 to study fluoride and 
tooth decay throughout communities in the South and Midwest. His 
departure planted a seed for the governments fluoride policies. Several 
years later, another seed would take root. On September 29, 1939, Gerald 
Cox, the researcher at the Mellon Institute, made his most radical 
suggestion yet at a meeting of the American Water Works Association in 
Johnstown, Pennsylvania. His suggestion took place at a historic moment. 
The world stood on the precipice of another world war. German tanks had 
just entered Poland. Aluminum aircraft and steel armor plate would be 
critical in the coming conflict. Pittsburgh's great blast furnaces and alu- 
minum pot lines, grown cold during the Depression, were being stoked 
anew, throwing a fresh funereal smoke against the autumn sky. Workers 
were already flooding war factories, eager for work. Cox proposed that 
America should now consider adding fluoride to the public water supply. 

Until then, health authorities had sought only to remove fluoride from 
water; now, the Mellon man told the Water Works Association, "The 
present trend toward complete removal of fluorine from water and food 
may need some reversal.' 

It would take a global conflagration, a nuclear bomb, and an Olympian 
flip-flop by the Public Health Service for water fluori-dation to take 
hold — yet Gerald Coxs 1935 rat study and Deans population 
investigations would be the germ for a vaccine providing a marvelous new 
immunity in the postwar years. Touted as a childhood protection against 
dental cavities, water fluoridation would also secretly help to inoculate 
American industry against a torrent of fresh lawsuits from workers and 
communities poisoned by wartime industrial fluoride emissions. 

General Groves's Problem 

On the edge of the marsh water, near the monumental K-25 factory at Oak 
Ridge, Tennessee, stands a solitary blue heron, its head angling for prey. 
"Danger. No Fishing Radiation," reads a sign. Across the pond, the gray 
walls of the plant glitter in the late evening sun. The smokestacks are cold 
now, the big machines silent and patient as the heron, waiting to be 
dismantled and hauled away. Close your eyes and the ghosts return. 
Mausoleum now, this half-mile-long steel colossus was once among the 
biggest industrial buildings in the world. Here, in the spring and summer 
of 1945 and throughout the cold war, tens of thousands of women and 
men worked through the night in a cacophony of heat and smoke, their 
backs bent to the purpose of a nation. Here, in the shade of Tennessee's 
Black Oak Ridge, lay America's biggest wartime secret, where nature was 
rendered in man's image more powerfully than ever before. Here, on the 
banks of the Clinch River, exotic ore and minerals from the corners of the 
globe were transfigured with an elemental genius by scientists, farm 
laborers, and migrants from across the United States, punching time 
clocks, sculpting the future, and enriching uranium for the Hiroshima 
atomic bomb. 

I T WAS A cold December morning in 1943 in northwest Washington, 
DC, and Brigadier General Leslie C. Groves had another problem on his 
desk. The portly, tough-talking engineer was in charge of the United 
States biggest and best-kept wartime secret. He was the army s chief of the 
Manhattan Project, and its staff was 


building an industrial infrastructure to manufacture the world s first atomic 

It was a gargantuan task. In complete secrecy Groves and the Army 
Corps of Engineers were overseeing the work of tens of thousands of 
laborers, scientists, and engineers who in just three years would create 
factories and laboratories rivaling the size of the entire U.S. automobile 
industry. The budget of the Manhattan Engineer District, as the project was 
officially known, eventually would run to over $2 billion and would be 
concealed almost entirely from the U.S. Congress.' 

The Generals days were a blur of covert action. There were secret 
flights to mysterious giant new factories being carved from virgin sites in 
Tennessee, New Mexico, and Washington State; huddled conferences in 
the Manhattan Projects New York and Washing-ton, DC, offices; and 
endless telephone calls, troubleshooting with top military lieutenants. The 
United States was in a nuclear arms race with Germany, Groves believed. 
Yet some of the key industrial processes needed to make the U.S. weapon 
had not even reached pilot-plant stage. Much of the nations atomic 
program, he knew, was still mired in laboratory development. 

Groves had a new headache that December morning. There were 
disturbing reports of workers and scientists being gassed and burned in the 
bomb project's laboratories and factories. Colonel Stafford L. Warren, 
chief of the Manhattan Project's Medical Section, needed help. He wanted 
General Groves to use his authority to pry loose some secret information 
from the army's Chemical Warfare Service. Warren wanted to know what 
the military's poison-gas experts could tell the Manhattan Project about the 
toxicity of fluoride.' 

General Groves immediately agreed to help. Getting more information 
about fluoride toxicity was vital. Despite the many uncertainties facing the 
Manhattan Project that bleak winter of 1943, Groves was sure of one thing: 
fluoride was going to be essential in making the United States' atomic 
bomb. Manhattan Project scientists were planning to use a "gaseous 
diffusion" technology to refine uranium. In that process uranium is mixed 
with elemental fluorine, forming a volatile gas called uranium hexafluoride, 
which is then "enriched" by diffusing that gas through a fine barrier, or 
membrane. The lighter molecules containing fissionable uranium 


needed for a nuclear explosion pass though the membrane more 
quickly and are captured on the other side. But because only a handful 
of the lighter molecules make it through the membrane each time, 
many hundreds of tons of fluorine, and thousands of stages of 
progressive enrichment, would be needed to produce enough uranium 
for a single atomic bomb. By January 20, 1945 when the K- 
25 gaseous diffusion plant on the banks of the Clinch River was loaded 
with fluoride for the first time, the plant's fantastic appetite would 
include a work force of 12,000, a hunger for electricity that rivaled the 
city of New York, and a diet of some 33 tons of uranium hexafluoride 
each month. 4 

The hunger for fluorine was one of the most closely guarded 
military secrets of World War II. A special office of the Manhattan 
Project in New York City, known as the Madison Square Area, 
coordinated much of the fluoride work. Elemental fluorine was 
designated simply the gas or fresh air. Scientists at the University of 
Chicago were advised in a secret 1942 memo that all fluorides are to 
be disguised ... in that they give definite clues to the chemistry 
involved. ' 

Dragooning fluoride into military service was also one of the cen- 
tral technological challenges of the war, requiring the full resources of 
academia and industry.' While the idea behind gaseous diffusion was 
simple, elemental fluorine and uranium hexafluoride were 
extraordinarily corrosive and toxic: Fluorine was easily the Earths 
most reactive element, scientists knew, often combining violently with 
other chemicals even at room temperature, vaporizing steel in a flash 
of white heat, for example, and presenting bomb-program engineers 
with extraordinary challenges and nightmarish hazards. So dangerous 
was the pure element that industry had avoided fluorine before the war, 
regarding it as "a laboratory curiosity." 8 

Wartime necessity became the mother of invention. Thousands of 
researchers in crowded laboratories worked to enlist fluoride in the 
fight against fascism. Scientists from Columbia, Princeton, Johns 
Hopkins, Purdue, Ohio State, Penn State, Duke, the University of 
Virginia, MIT, Cornell, and Iowa State studied the chemical, along- 
side engineers from some of the biggest industrial companies in 
wartime America. The companies included DuPont, Chrysler, 
Allis-Chalmers, Westinghouse, Standard Oil, the American 


and Telegraph Company (AT&T), Mallinckrodt, Eastman Kodak, the 
Electro Metallurgical Company, Linde Air Products, Hooker Chemical, 
Union Carbide, and Harshaw Chemical.' 

Columbia University scientists made an early technological 
breakthrough. In December 1940 a tiny two-cubic-centimeter capsule of a 
liquid, code-named "Joe's Stuff," was delivered to the campus in New York 
City. Researchers handled it with care. Inside was virtually the entire 
world s existing supply of a radical new chemical compound known as a 
"fluorocarbon" — in which carbon atoms were bonded not with hydrogen, 
as in conventional "hydrocarbon" oil, but entirely with fluorine atoms. 10 
The Columbia researchers soon confirmed that the liquid had Herculean 
strengths. The fluoride atom was bound to the carbon atom so tightly that 
even the hyperaggressive elemental fluorine gas was held at bay. The 
discovery was crucial. Inside the Oak Ridge gaseous-diffusion plant, hun- 
dreds of huge compressors and blowers would be needed to push the 
uranium hexafluoride gas through the multiple enrichment stages. If 
regular oils were used to grease these engines, however, the predatory 
fluorine atom stripped the hydrogen from the hydrocarbon, destroying the 
lubricant and the machinery." 

The bomb-program scientists could now fight fire with fire. Fluoride, 
bonded to carbon atoms in fluorocarbons, would protect the machinery 
from the fluoride in the uranium hexafluoride gas. In other words, fluoride 
would protect the machinery from fluoride's uniquely corrosive powers. A 
crash research program at Columbia — led by a brilliant Russian immigrant, 
Aristide V. Grosse — soon found a way of mass-producing the top-secret 
compounds. 12 By 1945 thousands of pounds of fluorocarbon oils and seals 
were being delivered to Oak Ridge. 13 

DuPont mass-produced the fluorocarbons. Their prewar expertise in 
manufacturing Freon was vital to the U.S. nuclear program. Thousands of 
pounds of similar refrigerants were now needed to cool the K-25 diffusion 
plant. DuPont's fluoride-based plastic called Teflon also gave the United 
States a key wartime advantage. Japan's atomic scientists had struggled to 
manufacture and handle small amounts of the corrosive uranium 
hexafluoride. But Teflon — which had been first fabricated in a DuPont lab 
in 1938 — allowed U.S. companies to move enormous quantities of fluoride 
around the country.' 


"The basic problem in making the bomb, General Groves wrote, 
"was to arrive at an industrial process that would produce kilograms of 
a substance that had never been isolated before in greater than 
sub-microscopic problems. ' 

Solving that problem required fluorine scientists. Without their 
inventions, the United States atomic bomb would have been impos- 
sible, noted the Manchester University scientist and historian Eric 
Banks. Most historians have focused on the physics of the atomic 
bomb, chronicling how the atom was split. The vast contribution of 
chemical engineers to the Manhattan Project — and the radical debut of 
a powerful chemical element onto the global stage — has largely been 
ignored. It is a striking omission, pointed out Banks. " American 
fluorine chemists had a huge impact on the production of the bomb." 

But exploiting fluoride was a double-edged sword, as the bomb 
programs scientists soon discovered. On January 20, 1943, the senior 
Manhattan Project doctor, Captain Hymer L. Friedell, paid a visit to the 
sprawling New York campus of Columbia University, where a 
small-scale gaseous diffusion plant had already been built. Almost a 
thousand researchers would eventually work on bomb-related projects 
at Columbia's War Research Laboratory. 16 After his visit Captain 
Friedell warned of possible health problems: The primary potential 
sources of difficulty may be present in the handling of uranium 
compounds, as noted above, and the coincident use of fluorides which 
are an integral part of the process.'" 

His warning was accurate. A fluoride-gas release at Columbia 
later that year produced "nausea, vomiting and some mental con- 
fusion"; in 1944 another researcher, Christian Spelton, developed 
pulmonary fibrosis after repeatedly fleeing clouds of uranium 
hexa-fluoride gas.' Other health problems were also reported. Dr. 
Homer Priest, a leading Columbia University fluoride scientist, 
complained that his "teeth seemed to be deteriorating rapidly." Dr. 
Priest told a doctor that he bled more freely and that "there has been a 
progressive increase in the degree of slowness of healing and of pain 
in the period he has been doing this work.'" 

The epidemic spread. At Princeton leaking fluoride gas left sci- 
entists feeling more easily fatigued. There were multiple reports of 
illness at Iowa State and of fluoride acid burns at Purdue, where 


two researchers were badly gassed with carbonyl fluoride in 1 944. 20 Health 
problems hit industry scientists too. At DuPont rather severe weakness 
was reported in 1943 by three chemists who had received "heavy 
exposures to fluorine. The symptoms were ascribed by them to the 
oxyfluorides formed, a report said' 

Accounts of fluoride injury mushroomed as the laboratory work moved 
into full-scale industrial production. At Oak Ridge in September 1944, 190 
pounds of hexafluoride gas escaped into a room, drifted outdoors, and 
formed a chemical cloud 20 yards by 20 yards." Nine workers were 
exposed "for periods of twenty seconds to five minutes, injuring the 
mouth, salivary organs, pharynx, skin, eyes and lungs.' The news got 
worse: that same year, *944, General Groves got shocking new reports of 
multiple deaths in the nuclear program. Details of those fatalities and 
fluorides role have remained hidden, often for a half-century or more. 

The stories of the DuPont workers, who may have been fluorides first 
wartime fatalities, have not been made public until now. (And they remain 
anonymous: once-secret military documents describing the deaths do not 
record their names.) On January 15, 1944, a laboratory assistant, a chemist, 
and a girl technician producing the fluorinated plastic Teflon for the bomb 
program were exposed to waste gases. Shortness of breath followed twelve 
hours later and by the end of 36 hours, all three were in the hospital, 
Colonel Warren was informed.-' 3 The chemist recovered but the other two 
died terrible deaths, turning purple and unable to breathe." When the 
twenty-three-year-old female "expired at the end of ten days," her 
autopsied lungs resembled a victim of a World War I poison gas attack. 
Colonel Warrens deputy, Captain John L. Ferry, suspected that the DuPont 
fumes contained "certain oxyfluorides" and suggested the military 
investigate the possibilities of this material being used as a poisonous gas. 

Although the army ordered up fresh toxicity studies, fearing " similar 
compounds may be formed in some of the other fluoride manufacturing 
operations," DuPont dragged its feet, investigators suggested, perhaps 
seeking to protect Teflon s postwar commercial potential. The 
manufacturer considers that we were buying a pack -aged product and is 
not interested in our investigating the toxicity of the materials involved, 
reported Captain Ferry. Several of the 


components thus far identified give good promise for commercial uses 
other than that contemplated here, explained a second army official. 
(Subsequently there were additional reports of sickness associated with 
Teflon. British scientists visiting a DuPont factory just after the war 
confirmed that heated Teflon fumes were linked with "excessive 
weakness, tiredness, nausea and sore throat.")" 

A Philadelphia Story 

THE SECRET DEATHS continued. Arnold Kramish is tormented by 
injuries sustained in perhaps the worst fluoride accident of World War II. 
Sitting in a New York hotel eating breakfast one October 2001 morning, 
pastry crumbs sprinkling his shirt, Kramish described how he still endures 
painful fluoride skin eruptions on his legs — fifty-seven years after 
surviving an explosion that killed two of his colleagues. In the 1970s he 
sought medical help for the recurring sores. A Navy doctor explained to 
him that fluoride stalks you the rest of your life. 

He is stalked, too, by memories of the chemical hell that erupted in 
South Philadelphia in September 1944. After the war Kramish became a 
top nuclear scientist and government diplomat, well-versed in the ways of 
government secrecy. But half a century after the fluoride accident, in a bid 
to gain recognition for the victims, Kramish broke his silence and revealed 
details of that disaster, including the names of the men who were killed and 
why General Groves kept the deaths secret. 28 

On the morning of September 2, 1944, twenty-one-year-old Private 
Kramish and engineers Peter Bragg and Douglas Meigs reported for duty at 
the sprawling Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Yard housed a super-secret 
facility using hot liquid fluoride and pressurized steam to enrich uranium 
for the atomic bomb. 29 Kramish was one of ten volunteers who had arrived 
to train on the new equipment. Just three days earlier, at the Manhattan 
Project's vast construction site at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Harvard 
University president James Conant had gathered the men and asked for 
volunteers. Conant warned them that their work in Philadelphia would be 
one of the more dangerous parts of the Project, remembers Kramish. 

James Conant was acutely aware of the dangers the men faced from 
fluoride. The chemist was one of President Roosevelt s top atomic 


advisers. He knew about the DuPont Teflon deaths. And he had seen the 
secret army reports on fluoride toxicity that General Groves had requested 
in December 1943. 10 The reports explained that the military was carrying 
out wartime human experiments with fluoride gases at the armys 
Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, searching for chemical warfare agents." 
The army had received data about fluoride experiments on humans in 
England that had produced powerful central-nervous-system effects. 12 And 
there were reports from captured prisoners of war suggesting that the Nazis, 
too, were investigating fluoride as a war gas. 33 Harvard's president was so 
disturbed by the extraordinary toxicity of certain fluoride 
compounds, especially those used in the human experiments, that he issued 
a secret warning to a senior U.S scientist about the atomic industrial 
fluoride work. As an organic chemist, Conant wrote, I think I should 
point out to you ... it is conceivable that similar effects would occur with 
any fluorinated organic acid, although probably the compounds would be 
less striking in their action. It is further conceivable that these compounds 
could be formed in small amounts by the action of fluorine gas on the acids 
or related compounds.' 

That fall day at Oak Ridge, however, as he asked for volunteers, Conant 
did not mention fluoride. All ten men raised their hands. Any mildly 
inquisitive guy was not going to opt out, said Kramish. 

At first the Philadelphia mission was more Keystone Kops than cloak 
and dagger. When they arrived at the Thirtieth Street train station, a 
military official in street clothes ordered them into Wana-makers 
department store to replace their uniforms with anonymous civilian garb. 
But the Navy did not give them enough money, and all the men could find 
were cheap Hawaiian shirts, says Kramish. He remembers ten men 
furtively changing into their new outfits in a nearby subway station, 
emerging into the sunlight wearing brightly colored shirts and GI boots. 

Two days later Kramish, Bragg, and Meigs were at the Navy Yard, 
working on the secret machinery. At lunch Kramish received a two-dollar 
bill in his change. "Give it back," his friend told him, warning that it was an 
omen of bad luck. Kramish pushed the bill into his pocket. 

That afternoon, back at the plant, at 1:20 PM a massive explosion 
suddenly tore at the machinery. Boiling steam and fluoride jetted 


onto Kramishs legs and back, clawing at his lungs and eyes. He fell 
backward, temporarily blinded. A trained scuba diver, Private John 
Hoffman ran into the smoking chaos holding his breath, pulling the injured 
men from the room and slicing Kramishs clothes from his burned body. 
This act of bravery would win Hoffman a Soldiers Medal, although the 
award was kept secret. I pulled three guys out. Everybody was 
shell-shocked, Hoffman told me. Fluorine gas had gotten loose — it was 
pretty pungent. I had to watch what the hell I was doing." 35 

The afternoon detonation echoed across South Philadelphia. A giant 
white plume of uranium hexafluoride gas drifted over the dockyard and 
into the nearby battleship USS Wisconsin. Douglas Meigs and Peter 
Bragg lay in their death throes. A priest attempted last rites on Kramish, 
whose wife was told that he had been killed. A once secret report of the 
disaster makes gruesome reading: twenty -six men had been exposed to 
460 pounds of fluoride and uranium in a huge chemical cloud. Douglas 
Meigs was sprayed with live steam containing liquid, solid and gaseous 
material in large quantities ; he died after sixteen minutes. Peter Bragg 
expired an hour later with third-degree burns over most of his body. He 
seemed in a great deal of pain, the report noted, and became violent 
shortly before death and resisted all attention." 

The remaining men survived, although many had serious and 
slow-healing wounds. Some experienced intense pain in the scrotum, 
penis, or about the anus, probably because of the hydrolysis of the 
chemicals in these moist areas, the report notes. Survivors also suffered 
unusual "nervous system" effects. One man was temporarily rendered 
"almost incoherent." This "altered mental state" was "more than could be 
explained on a purely fear reaction basis," the report said. "In all 
probability the injurious effects observed on the skin, eye, mucous 
membranes of upper respiratory tract, esophagus, larynx and bronchi were 
all directly caused by the action of the fluoride ion on the exposed tissues," 
concluded a military doctor." 

Kramish reports that at a closed wartime inquiry, he learned that part of 
his suffering had been unnecessary. The head of the Navy project, Dr. 
Philip H. Abelson, had known how to treat fluoride burns, according to 
Kramish. But fluoride and uranium were 


considered so secret that Abelson refused to give the medical facts to the 
arriving doctors, telling them, I m not sure you guys are cleared, Kramish 
recalls. As a result, he adds, the doctors walked among the injured and 
dying men that afternoon guessing what the burns might be. (Fifty years 
after the accident, Kramish reports he cornered Abelson one lunchtime in 
the Cosmos Club in Washington. Abelson refused to talk about the 
accident, Kramish says. " It was clearly a trauma for him.") 

The Philadelphia explosion traumatized the entire Manhattan Project. 
In addition to the fluoride strewn over south Philadelphia, it was perhaps 
the largest release of man-made radiation that had ever occurred. General 
Groves feared that a nuclear fission accident had taken place. The military 
quickly suppressed media coverage. The Philadelphia coroner was not 
told the cause of the men's 
death. 37 

That disaster night, roused by Groves, the Manhattan Project's top 

doctor, Colonel Stafford Warren, drove through the darkness from Oak 

Ridge, Tennessee. He arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Hospital in time to 

seize the organs of the dead men, stuffing the heart and lungs of Meigs and 

Bragg into his briefcase before returning home, he later told Kramish. 

(Warren and Kramish became friends after the war.) Warren explained to 

him that the organs had become classified material, Kramish recalled, 

and that they were sent to the University of Rochester for examination. 

The deceased were buried without them," Kramish added. 

Family members, such as Elizabeth Meigs, who was on her way to meet 

her husband in Philadelphia for Labor Day, would never learn that fluoride 

may have killed their relatives. General Groves kept silent about the 

fatalities. In his book about the Manhattan Project, Now It Can Be Told, 

Groves tells only that several persons " were injured" in Philadelphia and 

that the investigation "held up the work for a while." Groves's fear of 

admitting the deaths, Kra-mish says, was "not only that the atomic bomb 

project might be compromised, but that if project workers learned of the 

true hazards of working with uranium, they might balk. 39 Suppressing 

toxicity information "would extend to fluoride," added Kramish. Working 

with it was dangerous. 

Arnold Kramish still has the two-dollar bill he received that lunchtime. 
He keeps it wrapped in lead; it remains contaminated. 


Although fluoride played a nearly fatal part in Arnold Kramishs 
wartime experiences, he believes that few people have any idea of the 
chemicals wartime importance. It is not as exotic as the atom, he 
says. For most historians, radiation is all they want to talk about. 

The Fear Mounts 

FEAR NOW GRIPPED wartime fluoride workers across the U.S. 
atomic complex, and with good reason. 40 Thousands of them were 
entering an abominable work environment, beyond even Victorian 
horror, with daily exposure to a witch's brew of fluoride chemicals 
— including, for the first time in human history, the ferociously reac 
tive elemental fluorine gas. 41 

"When a jet of pure fluorine strikes most non-metallic materials," 
began one 1946 secret memo detailing occupational hazards, " the 
surface of the material is instantly raised to an incandescent white heat. 
Personnel may be severely burned by heat radiated from the surface 
even when they are not directly exposed to fluorine at all.. ..NO 



the memorandum. 42 

Incredibly, fluorine was not the most toxic gas to which workers 
risked exposure. When excess fluorine was vented to the 
atmosphere (a common procedure, as we shall see) a truly 
venomous family of even deadlier 

compounds — "oxyfluorides" — were formed. One of these 
chemicals, oxygen fluoride, a bi-product of fluorine disposal, was 
probably "the most toxic substance known," bomb program 
researchers bluntly reported. 43 

Another common workplace hazard was hydrogen fluoride acid 
( HF), which had the fiendish property, if splashed on skin, of ini- 
tially escaping detection but then slowly and painfully eating into a 
victim's bones. 44 One especially fearsome compound called chlorine 
trifluoride, which was used to "condition" or clean machinery, was 
so reactive that Allied intelligence agents suspected Hitlers SS had 
also experimented with it, as an incendiary agent. 45 U.S. atomic 
worker Joe Harding, who used chlorine trifluoride at the Paducah 
gaseous diffusion plant in Kentucky, described the compound as a 
violent monster that makes [pure] fluorine look mild by its side. 


Working with chlorine trifluoride was more dangerous than handling TNT 
while you was climbing a tree, said Harding.' 

Fluoride posed another hazard. It dramatically boosted the tox-icity of 
other cold war chemicals. The biological havoc wreaked by beryllium, for 
example — a key metal that makes nuclear weapons more powerful — was at 
least doubled by the synergistic presence of fluoride, bomb program 
scientists found. By 1947 there had been nineteen or more deaths reported 
in the nation s beryllium plants, with the carnage spreading rapidly. (When 
newspaper reporters got wind of the fact that families living near the 
beryllium plants were also getting sick, the Atomic Energy Commission 
tried to suppress the story.) 

Beryllium smelters were felled with an especially devastating one 
-two punch, said the Manhattan Project scientist Robert Turner. Men 
became ill with a foundry fever marked by shivering, high tempera tures, 
and profuse perspiration. The knockout blow from fluoride fumes 
followed sometimes days later, the scientist noted, with workers turning 
purple, gasping for breath, and coughing up blood. Turner was critical of 
other scientists. Investigators studying fluoride had shown a disregard of 
the fundamental principles of modern toxicology. Discovering how 
workers were being hurt required considering a range of factors, including 
the size of the particles involved, ways the poison entered the body, and 
awareness that the action of a compound is not equivalent to the sum of 
the action of its component parts," he wrote" Turner described the 
pathways by which tiny fume-sized particles of beryllium oxyfluoride 
penetrated deep into lungs with missile-like force. When the molecules 
arrived inside the alveoli, the atoms of fluorine and beryllium separated 
"like a charge bursting." Both beryllium and fluoride were poisonous, the 
scientist said, but it was the liberation of fluoride deep inside the lung that 
produced the most catastrophic health problems, destroying tissue, 
choking breath, and leaving permanent lung scarring." 

Similarly, when uranium was converted into hexafluoride gas, that 
poisonous metal also got a deadly new punch. This enhanced toxicity of 
uranium presented nuclear planners with perhaps their most diabolical 
quandary. Enormous quantities of uranium hexa-fluoride process gas 
were required for even a single atomic bomb. But when the hex was 
exposed to air, it rapidly formed a dense 


white cloud of HF gas and fume-sized particles of a highly toxic 
compound known as uranyl fluoride or uranium oxyfluoride 
( chemical symbol UOF z ). The compound injured laboratory 
animals in microscopic quantities, while even a few milligrams 
ingested daily proved fatal, bomb program doctors reported. 

Exposure to these two chemicals would be a daily fact of life in the 
diffusion plants.' In the hidden chambers of the massive K-25 plant, 
where precious uranium for the Hiroshima atomic bomb was first 
captured, "there will be a continuous escape of U0 2 F in the cold trap 
rooms," officials warned. Those workers would be exposed 8 hours 
per day regularly, explained Medical Captain John Ferry in a secret 
June 16, 1944 letter to an Oak Ridge contractor." 

"Just Watch Anyone That Has a Tie On" 

AS PREDICTED, WHITE fluoride smoke became a familiar sight and 
smell to generations of workers in Americas gaseous diffusion plants. 
I have never seen it that there wasnt a thick haze of process gas smoke 
in the air, said Joe Harding, remembering his almost thirty years 
inside the gaseous diffusion plant at Paducah, 

It does have a pungent odor, confirmed another worker, Sam Vest, 
who in 1970 followed his father and two uncles into the Oak Ridge 
nuclear factories. In a 2001 interview in his home near Oak Ridge the 
fifty-four-year-old Vest tugged on a never-ending cigarette, recalling 
his own three decades at America's first gaseous diffusion plant. His 
soft Tennessee drawl transported a visiting writer back inside the 
cacophonous K-25 building and to the apprentice electrician's first 
encounter with uranium hexafluoride gas. Vest watched one morning 
as clouds of smoke belched from equipment he was replacing. He 
asked a more experienced worker about the strange white fogs' "I said, 
"What is that stuff?' And he said, "That is process gas.' And I said, 
"Should we be here? I don't see anybody with respirators on.~ The 
older worker explained an Oak Ridge safety rule: "Just watch anyone 
that has a tie on." He added, And if he leaves hurriedly, you leave 
behind him. That was my first indoctrination," Vest said. "I was just a 

Medical advice given to men who had been in a chemical release, 
said Vest, was to go home and drink a six pack of beer.'" Vest 


remembered thinking, "I dont know anything about chemicals or uranium 
hexafluoride or anything like that. But none of this looks on the level to me. 
These men are standing in this fog with no respirators. I thought "My God, 
what kind of a place is this? 

On another occasion Vest found himself high above the plant in the 
pipe gallery, replacing electrical heaters. We were wading though this 
yellow powder," he recalled. "I asked [a colleague] Clyde, I said, " Clyde, 
what is all this yellow lying around here?' And he said, That is product. I 
said, What do you mean? And he said, "Well, that is UO F 2 . After it cools 
down, it solidifies and that is enriched uranium.' And I said, "Shouldn't we 
have some kind of breathing apparatus or something? And he said, Hell no, 
we work in this all the time. It wont hurt you.'" 

Similar official safety reassurances, from the highest levels of the 
United States government, were given to tens of thousands of fluoride 
workers throughout the cold war. The assurances were false. Fluoride was 
a state secret. Workers were neither told what chemicals they were 
handling nor of the warned dangers. "The people hired by the contractors 
were not, because of security, told of the hazards involved in their work," 
Colonel Stafford Warren wrote to a deputy, Dr. Fred Bryan, in September 
24, 1947. 60 

Despite an early awareness that cancer and occupational injuries were 
extraordinarily frequent at the gaseous diffusion plants, work ers could 
never prove that such was the case. "All medico-legal and insurance 
statistics which refer directly to process hazards" were classified "secret," 
an AEC document noted. 61 In data that were declassified only in 1997, for 
example, it was revealed that during the earliest months of the K-25 plants 
operation, from June 1945 to October 1946, there were 392 chemical 
injuries from uranium hexafluoride, 58 injuries from fluorine, 21 from 
hydrogen fluoride, and six injuries from fluorocarbons. 62 

Area C 

WORKERS QUICKLY GREW suspicious at the endless medical testing. 
Behind a barbed wire fence at a secret plant in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, 
known as Area C, segregated young African Americans — who loaded a 
chalky green salt into furnaces — gave regular urine samples to 
government doctors. 


"You had to be tested all the time, said Allen Hurt, an employee of 
the Harshaw Chemical Company, which ran the secret plant under 
contract for the Manhattan Project. He was one of five former workers 
who agreed to talk about his experiences. 

The industrial complex on the Cuyahoga River was one of the 
Manhattan Projects most important sites. Harshaw engineers had 
invented a way to add extra fluoride molecules to uranium tetra 
fluoride — the green salt the workers were handling — 
manufacturing the vital hexafluoride process gas needed for 
uranium enrichment. ( Hex means six and tetra means four.) By 
June 1944 the plant was capable of producing a ton of hex each day 
for shipment by truck to Oak Ridge for the K-25 gaseous diffusion 

The government reassured the workers about the tests. In a 1948 
visit to Cleveland, for example, a Manhattan Project senior doctor, 
Bernard Wolf, gathered the workers together to tell them that all our 
records indicate that no unusual hazard existed. The truth was very 
different. Secretly, on August 5,1947, the AECs W. E. Kelly had 
informed Harshaw s senior manager, K. E. Long, that the status of 
health protection at Area C is unsatisfactory is several respects. He 
cited in particular: 

1. Contamination of the Area C plant, Harshaw plant 
area and an unknown amount of contamination of the 
surrounding neighborhood with uranium and fluoride 

2. Exposure of operating personnel to uranium and 

fluorine compounds by direct contact and inhala-tion. 64 

Harshaw workers knew something was in the air. The moment you 
stepped out of the time clock office, there would be an odor, a burning 
sensation, recalled Henry Pointer. It would sting your face, you 
would inhale it too. Union organizer John L. Smith was sick one day 
after repairing a pipe. It was the fumes — next thing I felt breathing 
difficulty and started vomiting and went to the first aid and started 
shitting in front of them at the same time, he said. ( Although he never 
knew what had poisoned him, Smiths symptoms were of acute 
fluoride poisoning.)" 


There were fluoride fatalities at Harshaw as well. Young black women 
made up about half of the Area C workforce. Twenty-two-year-old Gloria 
Porter started at the Cleveland works in 1943, filling hydrogen fluoride 
tanks. On October 9, 1945, she saw a man eaten alive by the fluoride acid 
when a storage tank at Area C exploded." I heard this rumble, remembers 
Porter, who had just finished her shift. All of a sudden this cast iron 
[storage tank] just burst open and the smoke, the fumes from the acid, you 
just couldnt see nothing, and that stuff was rolling and the more it rolled 
the further we would run." 

A male worker helped Porter to scramble over the barbed wire fence that 
surrounded Area C. As she stared back, a horrific image was seared in her 
mind. She watched men struggling through a giant cloud of hydrofluoric 
acid. I saw all of them coming out with hunks of flesh just falling off of 
them, and the stomach, and their arms, and I said "My God, I cant look at 
that. That man cant live. He looked just liked bone, but he fell right then. 
Two men were killed in the accident, and a good friend was badly burned, 
recalls Porter, who left Area C the following year." After the explosion, I 
just wanted to get out, she added 

African Americans may have been hired for fluoride work in order to 
conceal the chemicals toxic effects. Most fair complexioned men could 
not be employed in the production plant, reported a once classified 
wartime study of Harshaw fluoride workers. 68 Acid fumes produced skin 
that was dehydrated, roughened and irritated, the report noted. Some 
workers had "hyperemia" or acute reddening of the face. When that report 
was published, however, the black- and-white language of segregation had 
grown less stark. The chemical sensitivity to the fluoride was now more 
subtly described as "more severe in fair complexioned men." 69 

Harshaw veterans confirmed that only African Americans were 
employed inside the heavily guarded Area C plant. Outside, white male 
supervisors oversaw the big cylinders being hoisted onto trucks for the 
journey to Oak Ridge, remembered a former worker, James Southern. 
Yeah, but they werent pulling, interjected worker Henry Pointer, the 
labor people were all black. 

One young white laborer, John Fedor, who joined the company in 1939 
with a tenth-grade education, was never permitted to enter the 


Area C complex. He had no idea that the plant was performing secret 
war work for the government. To work there you had to be cleared 
and I was not cleared to go in, he explained. Nevertheless Fedor grew 
worried about fluoride exposure at Harshaws big hydrogen fluoride 
(HF) plant, which supplied Area C, and about the terrible conditions 
those workers endured. (He became a union organizer after the war.) 
His Safety Committee invited state inspectors inside the HF plant. 
Inside, fluoride levels as high as 18 parts per million were measured, 
six times the permitted safety standard. 70 "There were men walking 
around with rags over their noses, there were no respirators, there 
was no safety program," Fedor remembered. Burns and acid 
splashes were common. "The good Lord knows what it did to the 
inside of a person's body. How many people may have suffered 
fatalities over the years I have no idea, he added?' 

Allen Hurt carries visible reminders of his years at Harshaw 
Chemical. He pulled a trouser leg up to reveal fifty-year-old scars he 
blamed on fluoride. They didnt give you protection, he said. It 
would eat the clothes and it would do the same thing to your skin. 
Sickness has stalked former employees, survivors claim. By the time 
the plant closed in 1952, an estimated 400 to 60o workers had been 
employed at the Area C plant. Cancer and heart ailments have been 
especially frequent among former workers, John L. Smith claims. The 
people who worked there are dead. Those that ain't dead, there's five of 
them in the nursing home." The remaining veterans smolder with 
anger. Mostly, they wish they had been given the dignity of choosing 
their wartime fate. "At least we should have been properly informed," 
said Smith. "What few is left is as pissed off as they can be." 72 

Hazards to the local population could occur" 

WHEN HE WAS shown several declassified documents describing 
how fluoride and uranium were regularly vented from the Harshaw 
smokestacks, union organizer John Fedor was suddenly concerned. 
"I wonder about the immediate area," he remarked, "whether there 
were illnesses caused by that, or whether it just dissipated when it 
got in the air?" 

Fedor is right to be concerned about the effects of fluoride on the 
area around Harshaw. It was not, of course, just the atomic 


workers who were secretly at risk from fluoride. From the beginning of the 
nation s nuclear program, officials worried about families living near bomb 
factories. Hazards to the local population could occur if large amounts of 
fluorine or if fluorides were to be discharged in effluents, wrote the 
medical director Colonel Stafford Warren. 73 

Again, the fears proved accurate. Fluoride was secretly vented, and it 
spilled across communities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, 
Tennessee, and Ohio. 74 Those releases increased as the United States 
expanded its cold war atomic arsenal and built two mammoth new gaseous 
diffusion plants, at Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio. 75 

Environmentalists often cite Cleveland s Cuyahoga River — which burst 
into flames in June 1969 — as the lurid spectacle that helped bring about 
the Clean Water Act. The shocking sight of a waterway ablaze 
precipitated a moment of national clarity, focusing attention on the 
dumping of chemical wastes into the environment. Less well remembered, 
however, is a $9 million lawsuit brought in 1971 by the local Sierra Club 
against the Harshaw Chemical Company for fluoride pollution, which, the 
organization charged, had eaten and corroded the main Harvard Dennison 
Bridge over the same Cuyahoga river." That bridge had to be rebuilt. 

The government had watched the situation in Cleveland nervously. 
Following complaints in 1947, a team from the University of Rochester s 
Atomic Energy Project was quietly dispatched to measure fluoride 
pollution. The scientist Frank Smith secretly reported levels of 143 parts 
per million of HF venting from the Harshaw smoke stacks. (By contrast, 3 
parts per million is the stan dard considered safe today for workplace 
exposure.) The results are on the low side, Smith wrote, since the 
efficiency of the sampling procedure we used is not too good for 
[elemental] fluorine and oxygen fluoride; if considerable quantities of 
these two gases were present in the air, we probably missed a part of 
them. 77 The AEC was worried about lawsuits. Dr. Smith pointed to several 
lower fluoride readings in his data. Those measurements, he said, might 
prove the most valuable ... [as they] in no case exceed the level declared 
legally permissible in Massachusetts, California and 


Storm clouds continued to gather over Cleveland. A July 1949 AEC 
report warned that although the complaints from civic organizations have 
been concerned with general atmospheric pollution, and neither fluoride 
nor uranium have been mentioned specifically, it is likely that as time 
progresses, the extent of air pollution by fluorides will receive attention " 78 
The AEC ran more secret tests after a consultant, Philip Sadtler, was hired 
in 1949 by the local community to investigate Cleveland air pollution. 
While uranium releases were within permissible levels, they concluded 
that the fluoride data, however, satisfied none of the criteria.'" 

Several of the former Area C workers confirmed that pollution was 
rampant. Allen Hurt parked his car downwind from the plant whenever he 
worked the night shift. Overnight, fallout would come, and my black car 
was full of gray dust, and I washed if off and I could see little fine pits 
where it had ate into the paint. If it does that in metal, what would it do to 
us? he wondered. Hurt recalled that local residents complained: They had 
a problem with the people up on the hill, because it was coming up there 
and bothering their homes. 

Environmental damage around atomic bomb plants was often 
widespread. At Oak Ridge, officials planned, in 1945, to dump 500 pounds 
of fluorides each day into the nearby Poplar Creek; a decade later, airborne 
fluoride emissions had scarred a fifty-square-mile area of wounded and 
dying trees, officials stated, and posed a clear threat to grazing animals. 
And in 1955, some 615,000 pounds of fluorine was "lost in the vent gases" 
from a single in-house plant making uranium hexafluoride at Oak Ridge. 80 

Lawsuits alleging fluoride human injury and destruction of crops and 
farm animals were sparked against DuPont's Chamber Works in New 
Jersey and the Pennsylvania Salt Company's plants in the Pennsylvania 
towns of Easton and Natrona.' At a second gaseous diffusion plant in 
Portsmouth, Ohio, which began operations in 1954, fluoride exposure was 
immediately declared a "significant liability" for both employees and the 
general public," a document noted. 82 -At the AECs giant Feed Materials 
Production Center in Fernald, Ohio, waste fluorides were the biggest 
single problem, where some 15,000 pounds of fluorides were being 
disposed of each month in the nearby Miami River, according to a pollution 
Arthur Stem. 83 


And as late as the mid-1980s, thirty years after it began operation, the 
gaseous diffusion plant at Portsmouth, Ohio, was still dumping 15.6 tons 
of fluorides each year into the atmosphere." 

Darkness hid fluoride releases at the K-25 plant in Tennessee, 
according to former supervisor Sam Vest. "I could pull into the parking lot 
at night and smell it. I could tell they were releasing fluo rine from the 
fluorine plant. They waited until after dark to release it, because it was just 
a horrendous cloud." Some workers found a strange beauty in the 
nighttime releases at Oak Ridge, Vest added. "Operators described it as 
being just beautiful, to just stand there and watch crystals on a clear cold 
night go up [into the air]." 

General Groves's Solution 

Dr. Harold Hodge and 

the University of Rochester 

The Manhattan Project had seen the danger from fluoride early. Before the 
war private industry had contained the legal dangers from factory 
pollution by forming the Air Hygiene Foundation at the Mellon Institute. 
Also fearing lawsuits, in 1943 General Groves established the Manhattan 
Projects Medical Section at the University of Rochester to strengthen the 
governments interests, placing Dr. Harold C. Hodge in charge of a secret 
unit studying fluoride and the other chemicals being used to make the 
atomic bomb. 

FROM His CORNER office window in the medical school at Strong Memorial 
Hospital that summer of 1943 Dr. Harold Hodge could see construction 
workers placing the finishing touches on a half million-dollar building at 
the University of Rochester known as the Manhattan Annex.' The heavily 
guarded structure, funded by the U.S. Army, would be home to the 
Manhattan Project's Medical Section. Orders had been placed for hundreds 
of experimental animals: Puerto Rican monkeys, dogs, mice, rabbits, and 
guinea pigs.' And an umbilical cord-like tunnel linking the military annex 
with the university hospital was urgently being readied. 

As the new Annex foundations were put down, so too was the keystone 
laid for the postwar practice of toxicology in the United States — and for the 
future career of the thirty-nine-year-old bioc hemist, Dr. Harold Hodge. 
The Annex would soon house the largest 


medical laboratory in the nation, with a staff of several hundred scientists 
testing the toxicity of the chemicals being used to build the atomic bomb. 

Military pilots flew the exotic new compounds directly from the bomb 
factories to Hodges team at Rochester. "Harold would actually meet the 
pilots under [cover of] dark to get the material to test, said toxicologist 
Judith MacGregor, who befriended Hodge at Rochester, where she was a 
graduate student in the 1960s, and who was mesmerized by her mentors 
tales. It was unbelievable. 

That spring of 1943, Hodge had been placed in charge of the bomb 
programs Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology and given control of 
a secret biomedical research unit known as Program F to study fluoride 
toxicity.' The Manhattan Project had a whole section working on uranium 
and a whole section working on fluoride, explained Jack Hein, who 
worked with Hodge at Rochester during the early cold war as a young 
graduate student and remembers the scale of the fluoride studies. The 
toxicology studies were very comprehensive. They were looking for toxic 
effects on the bone, the blood, and the nervous system. . . . Without the 
Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb, we wouldnt know anywhere near 
as much as we do about the physiological effects of fluoride, Hein added . 4 
His research suddenly blossomed into an immense program, noted Paul 
Morrow, a uranium expert who also joined Hodge at Rochester in 1947 and 
who worked on some of the earliest experiments. 

Hodge's war work germinated into a career as the nation's leading 
expert on fluoride. Over more than half a century the tall, black-haired 
researcher published several books and some three hundred scientific 
papers. He was chairman of the National Research Councils Committee on 
Toxicology and first president of the Society of Toxicology. And a 
generation of Hodges Rochester colleagues and students — men such as 
Herbert Stokinger, Paul Morrow, and Helmuth Schrenk — went on to 
occupy leading positions in government agencies and universities after the 
war.' He was unarguably the dean of American toxicology, stated a 
former colleague and Rochester alumni, Ernest Newbrun, now a professor 
emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco." 

To several generations of colleagues, the soft-spoken scientist with the 
slicked-back hair was a gentleman scholar and tutor, advising 


them to play it straight, and regularly, in his early seventies, trounc 
ing graduate students at squash.' But Harold Hodge — grandfather, 
soft-spoken friend, and dean of American toxicology — shouldered 
dark secrets for much of his professional life. 

That summer of 1943, as Dr. Hodge stood at his office window, he 
confronted a terrible dilemma. Speed was essential in beating the 
Germans to full-scale production of the atomic bomb.' The fate of tens 
of thousands of American workers lay in his hands. His laboratory's 
evaluation of the toxicity of chemicals needed for the bomb, such as 
fluorine, beryllium, and trichloroethylene, would fix work conditions 
for the women and men inside the Manhattan Projects bomb factories, 
help determine how quickly the plants could achieve full 
production — and whether employers would be successfully sued for 
damages if those workers claimed injury from chemical exposure.' 
The questions were many and the answers few, wrote Hodge. There 
was no time to wait for months, or even weeks, while the accepted 
laboratory tests established the toxico-logical facts. Production had to 
proceed with no delays." 10 

People working in the atomic energy production plants were going 
to be chronically exposed, said Jack Hein. We didnt know too much 
about the toxicity of fluoride, other than the early studies saying a little 
too much in the water causes damage to teeth, he added." 

General Leslie Groves understood the dangers of such pell-mell 
production. He feared that personal injury lawsuits would be an 
Achilles heel for the entire nuclear program. Leading insurers, such as 
Aetna and Travelers, were providing health coverage for workers in the 
new bomb factories. 12 Successful claims for fluoride injury or for 
neighborhood pollution might hemorrhage compensation payments, 
create a public-relations disaster, risk jeopardizing the embryonic 
nuclear industry — and threaten the United States' unprecedented new 
military power. 13 

The army moved quickly to protect itself. Its first weapon was 
secrecy. The second weapon was seizing control of basic science. In 
particular the crucial toxicity studies on bomb program chemicals 
performed at the University of Rochester were sculpted and shaped 
to defend the Manhattan Project from lawsuits.' Those marching 
orders — conscripting science and law for military service — were 
drummed home in a July 30, 1945, memorandum titled Purpose 


and Limitations of the Biological and Health Physics Research Pro -gram, 
written by the head of the Medical Section, Colonel Stafford Warren. 
According to Warren, The Manhattan District, as a unit of the U.S. Army ... 
has been given a directive to conduct certain operations which will be 
useful in winning the war. As such, medico-legal aspects were accorded 
a clear priority for scientists, he added, including the necessary biological 
research to strengthen the Governments interests. 15 

Scientists soon delivered courtroom ammunition. "Much of the data 
already collected is proving valuable from a medical legal point of view," 
noted a February 1946 memo to General Groves's deputy, Brigadier 
General K. C. Nichols. "It is anticipated that further research will also serve 
in this manner," the memo added. 16 

Colonel Warren had chosen his top fluoride expert carefully. The son of 
an Illinois schoolteacher, Harold Hodge was a biochemist whose specialty 
was the study of bones and teeth. He had arrived at the University of 
Rochester in 1931, where he was one of an elite cadre of men selected by 
the Rockefeller Foundation as dental research fellows. The Rockefeller 
Foundation was then funding basic research at selected dental schools in a 
bid to lift the standards of dental care in the United States. Hodge was also 
a pharmacologist and toxicologist who by 1937 had forged close links with 
corporate America.' By the summer of 1943 some of those corporations 
and institutions were taking a lead role in developing America's first 
nuclear weapon. Eastman Kodak, a Rochester company where Hodge had 
investigated chemical poisoning before the war, was now a leading 
industrial contractor at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 16 Rockefeller interests were 
also using fluoride to refine uranium at an undisclosed site in New Jersey 
and funding their own biomedical research at the University of 

Harold Hodge's role as gatekeeper at the wartime crossroads of law and 
medical science was spelled out in a 1944 letter introducing the Rochester 
scientist to the DuPont company. The letter, stamped confidential, again 
lays out a fundamental scientific bias in the Manhattan Districts medical 
program — a bias against workers and communities, and in favor of 
corporate legal interests. 

The Medical Section has been charged with the responsibility of 
obtaining toxicological data which will insure the Districts being 


in a favorable position in case litigation develops from exposure to 
the materials, Colonel Stafford Warren told Dr. John Foulger of 
DuPonts Haskell Laboratory in a letter dated August 12, 1944. 
Harold Hodge was to insure that information about the toxicity of 
certain fluoride compounds was coordinated between the 
government and its contractors, Warren explained. It would be 
desirable, he told Foulger, to have the work on the toxicity of 
fluorocarbons being done in your laboratory parallel the 
investigations being made on similar compounds elsewhere. For that 
reason it would be appreciated if Dr. Harold Hodge of the University 
of Rochester could visit your laboratory in the near future and an 
exchange of ideas be effected." 20 

Harold Hodge, Devil's Island, 
and the Peach Crop Cases 21 

Harold Hodge s diligence in defending the war industry can be seen 
in a 1946 court challenge from farmers living near a DuPont fluoride 
plant in New Jersey. Although not mentioned in any history of the 
Manhattan Project, the lawsuits were regarded by the military as the 
most serious legal threat to the U.S. nuclear program, requiring the 
direct intervention of General Leslie Groves. A closing chapter in the 
Manhattan Project, the aggressive use of secrecy, science, and public 
relations by Groves and Hodge, and at least a half dozen federal 
agencies battling the farmers, is an opening scene in the story of how 
fluoride was handled by our government following World War II. 

The gently rolling alluvial soil along the shore of the Delaware 
estuary in Southern New Jersey is some of the most bountiful farm- 
land in the United States. Its historic harvest of fruit and vegetables 
won New Jersey the accolade of The Garden State. The orchards 
downwind of the DuPont plant in Gloucester and Salem counties 
were especially famous for their high-quality produce; their 
peaches went directly to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. 
Campbell's Soup bought up their tomatoes. But in the summer of 
1943 the farmers began to report that their orchards were blighted 
and that "something is burning up the peach crops around here." 

Poultry died after an all-night thunderstorm, they reported. Fields 
were sometimes strewn with dead cattle, residents recalled, while 


workers who ate the produce they had picked vomited all night and into the 
next day. I remember our horses looked sick and were too stiff to work, 
Mildred Giordano, who was a teenager at the time, told reporter Joel 
Griffiths. Some cows were so crippled that they could not stand up, and 
grazed by crawling on their bellies. The injuries were confirmed in taped 
interviews, shortly before he died, with the chemical consultant Philip 
Sadtler of Sadtler Laboratories in Philadelphia. On behalf of the farmers' 
crusading attorney, Counselor William C. Gotshalk of Camden, New 
Jersey, Sadtler had measured blood fluoride levels in laborers as high as 
310 parts per million. (Blood fluoride is normally well below i part per mil- 
lion. These levels are potentially lethal doses) 22 

Some of the farm workers were pretty weak, Sadtler noted. The New 
Jersey farmers organized a Fluorine Committee. They patriotically waited 
until the war was over, then sued DuPont and the Manhattan Project for 
fluoride damage. Thirteen claimants asked for a total of $430,000 in 

Little wonder the farmers reported health problems. Conditions on the 
other side of the DuPont fence were extraordinarily dangerous. More than a 
thousand women and men were employed on Manhattan Project contracts 
at the Chamber Works during the war, secretly manufacturing elemental 
fluorine, uranium hexafluoride, and several exotic new fluorocarbons. 23 
Chemical exposures were frequent, making the DuPont employees perhaps 
the most endangered and fearful of the wartime fluoride workers. By the 
end of January 1944 at least two DuPont laboratory workers had been 
killed and several scientists injured. Work conditions at the secret 
fluoride-producing East and Blue Areas of the Chamber Works were 
especially dreadful, with "gross violations of safety," inspectors noted. 24 

One unit was especially notorious, the government reported. "The plant 
frequently caught on fire, and the activators often burned out so the 
employees were frequently exposed to rather large amounts of fluorine 
compounds," Captain Mears of the Manhattan Project noted in October 
1945. "Medical hazards were attributed to fluorine in a gaseous state, silver 
fluorides in a powdered state and liquid 
2144 [code for fluorocarbon]. 25 

Injured workers paraded into the DuPont hospital. Doctors often 
reported "a fibrotic condition of both lungs" on X-rays; serious 


chemical burns were seen very frequently. The mounting injury 
toll was blamed on fluoride. 20 In February 1945 doctors at the East and 
Blue Areas reported seventy-nine sub-par or so-called chronic cases. 
Sixteen of those workers had their condition detected in the last two 

A Manhattan Project medical investigator, Captain Richard C. 
Bernstein, warned his boss, Colonel Warren, that workers now feared 
assignment to the DuPont fluoride processing areas as "an exile to 
Devil's Island." 28 Another report warned of brewing labor unrest. "Fear 
of the physical consequences was becoming prevalent in the Areas, 
wrote Manhattan Project investigator First Lieutenant Birchard M. 
Brundage in February 1945. "This fear was being used by certain 
agitators to cause trouble in the personnel," he added. 


The farmers lawsuits electrified the Manhattan Project. There had 
been no disclosure of the diabolical work conditions at DuPont. Now, a 
public lawsuit pointed a finger directly at the Chamber Works and 
fluoride. A once secret November 1945 memo measures the 
government's concern: "The most serious claim to neighboring 
properties of any operations of the [Manhattan Engineering] District is 
the litigation known as the "peach crop cases.' These are cases claiming 
damages to the fruit crop and to the peach trees themselves in and 
around the operation of the Chambers Works of the DuPont Company 
at Kearney, New Jersey. This damage is alleg edly caused by the 
release into the atmosphere, both unintentional and necessary as a 
result of the process [sic] of hydrogen fluoride. The claims against the 
District approximate $430,000. Part of the loss would be due to the 
private contractor and part to the operation of the contractor on behalf 
of the District." 30 

The military sprang into action. Dr. Hodge was dispatched to New 
Jersey to marshal the medical response to the farmers' rebellion. 
Although DuPont's smokestack fluoride had long been spilled into the 
environment and a great volume of new fluoride compounds were 
being made inside the wartime plant, he quickly reported back to 
Colonel Stafford Warren at Oak Ridge that the mottled teeth seen in the 
school near the DuPont plant could be attributed to natural fluoride in 
the ground water. 31 Such natural fluoride in the water supply meant 
that the dental markings could not be used as unequivocal proof of 
industrial poisoning. The situation was 


complicated by the existence of mottled enamel as a result of fluoride in the 
drinking water, Hodge told Warren. 

Dr. Hodge had an idea for calming the citizen panic. His prescrip tion 
gives an early meaning to the term spin doctor — and provides a clue that 
the promotion by the U.S. government of a role for fluoride in tooth health 
has a powerful national-security appeal. Would there be any use in making 
attempts to counteract the local fear of fluoride on the part of residents of 
Salem and Gloucester counties through lectures on F toxicology and 
perhaps the usefulness of F in tooth health? Hodge inquired of Colonel 
Warren. 32 Such lectures, of course, were indeed given, not only to New 
Jersey citizens, but to the rest of the nation throughout the cold war. 

A good cop-bad cop assault was launched against the farmers. Almost 
immediately their spokesperson, Willard B. Kille, a market gardener, 
received an extraordinary invitation: to dine with none other than General 
Leslie R. Groves, then known as the man who built the atomic bomb, at 
his office at the War Department on March 26, 1946. 33 Although Kille had 
been diagnosed with fluoride poisoning by his doctor, he departed the 
luncheon convinced of the governments good faith. The next day he wrote 
to thank the general, wishing the other farmers could have been present, he 
said, so they too could come away with the feeling that their interests in 
this particular matter were being safeguarded by men of the very highest 
type whose integrity they could not question." 

Behind closed doors however, General Groves had mobilized the full 
resources of the federal government and the Manhattan Project to defeat 
Kille s farmers and their Fluorine Committee. The documentary trail 
detailing the government's battle against the farmers begins with a March 1, 
1946, memo to top Manhattan Project doctor Colonel Stafford Warren, 
outlining the medical problem in New Jersey. There seem to be four 
distinct (though related) problems, Colonel Warren was told. 

1. A question of injury of the peach crop in 1944. 

2. A report of extraordinary fluoride content of veg- 

etables grown in this area. 

3. A report of abnormally high fluoride content in the 

blood of human individuals residing in this area. 


4. A report raising the question of serious poisoning of 
horses and cattle in this area. 

Under the personal direction of General Groves, secret meetings 
were convened in Washington, with compulsory attendance by scores 
of scientists and officials from the U.S. War Department, the 
Manhattan Project, the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture 
and Justice departments, the U.S. Armys Chemical Warfare Service 
and Edgewood Arsenal, the Bureau of Standards, and DuPont 
lawyers.' 1 These agencies are making scientific investigations to 
obtain evidence which may be used to protect the interest of the 
Government at the trial of the suits brought by owners of peach 
orchards in . . . New Jersey," stated Lieutenant Colonel Cooper B. 
Rhodes of the Manhattan Project in a memo dated August 27, 1945, 
and cc'd to General Groves.' The memo stated: 

SUBJECT: Investigation of Crop Damage at Lower Penns 

Neck, New Jersey T o : The Commanding General, 
Army Service Forces, 

Pentagon Building, Washington D.C. At the request 
of the Secretary of War the Department of Agriculture 
has agreed to cooperate in investigating complaints of 
crop damage attributed ... to fumes from a plant operated 
in connection with the Manhattan Project. 

Signed L. R. Groves, Major General U.S.A. 36 

"The Department of Justice is cooperating in the defense of these 
suits," General Groves subsequently wrote in a February 28, 1946, 
memo to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on 
Atomic Energy. 37 

General Groves, of course, was one of the most powerful men in 
postwar Washington, and the full resources of the military-industrial 
state were now turned upon the New Jersey farmers. The farmers' 
expert witness, scientist Philip Sadtler, was singled out by the 
military. A handwritten note in General Groves's files in the National 
Archives demands to know: Col. Rhodes, Who is Sadtler ? 38 


Groves learned that the Sadtler family name was one of the most 
distinguished and respected in American chemistry. The firm of Samuel P. 
Sadtler and Son was established in 1891 and routinely consulted for top 
industrial corporations, including Coca-Cola and John D. Rockefeller.' ' 
Philip Sadtler s grandfather, Samuel P. Sadtler, had been a founding 
member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, while his father, 
Samuel S. Sadtler, was one of the first editors of the venerable science 
publication Chemical Abstracts. (Today Philip Sadtler s Standard Spectra 
are a diagnostic tool used in laboratories around the world.) 

But back then, in New Jersey, counterespionage agents followed him 
and accused him of "dealing with the enemy," stated Sadtler. 40 He recalled 
one confrontation with two U.S. Army captains that ended in a South 
Jersey orchard when Gotshalk, the farmers lawyer, asked the military 
officials, Since when are the farmers of the United States the enemy? 

Why was there such a national-security emergency over a few lawsuits 
by New Jersey farmers? In 1946 the United States had begun full-scale 
production of atomic bombs. No other nation had yet tested a nuclear 
weapon, and the A-bomb was seen as crucial for U.S. leadership of the 
postwar world. The New Jersey fluoride law -suits were a serious 
roadblock to that strategy. In the case of fluoride, If the farmers won, it 
would open the door to further suits, which might impede the bomb 
programs ability to use fluoride, remarked Jacqueline Kittrell, a 
Tennessee public-interest lawyer specializing in nuclear cases, who 
examined the declassified fluoride documents. (Kittrell has 
represented plaintiffs in several human radiation experiment cases.) She 
added, The reports of human injury were especially threatening, because 
of the potential for enormous settlements — not to mention 
the PR problem." 41 

Indeed, DuPont was particularly concerned about the possible 
psychologic reaction to the New Jersey pollution incident, according to a 
secret 1946 Manhattan Project memo. Facing a threat from the Food and 
Drug Administration (FDA) to embargo the regions produce because of 
"high fluoride content," DuPont dispatched its lawyers to the FDA offices 
in Washington, where an agitated meet ing ensued. According to a memo 
sent the following day to General Groves, DuPont s lawyer argued that in 
view of the pending suits 


any action by the Food and Drug Administration . . . would have a 
serious effect on the DuPont Company and would create a bad public 
relations situation." 

After the meeting adjourned, Manhattan Project Captain John Davies 
approached the FDAs Food Division chief and impressed upon Dr. White 
the substantial interest which the Government had in claims which might 
arise as a result of action which might be taken by the Food and Drug 
Administration. 42 There was no embargo. Instead, new tests for fluoride in 
the New Jersey area would be conducted — not by the Department of 
Agriculture but by the Chemical Warfare Service — because work done by 
the Chemical Warfare Service would carry the greatest weight as evidence 
if .. . lawsuits are started by the complainants. The memo was signed by 
General Groves. 43 

The farmers kept fighting. On February 2, 1946, Willard Kille wrote to 
the influential Senator Brian McMahon, Chairman of the Special 
Committee on Atomic Energy, on behalf of the Fluorine Committee, 
telling him about the peach trees and poisoning. General Groves quickly 
interceded, informing the Senator, I do not believe it would be of any 
value to your committee to have Mr. Kille appear before it. Groves assured 
Senator McMahon that I am keeping in close personal touch with the 
matter from day to day in order that I may be personally certain that while 
the government's interests are protected no advantage is taken of any 
injured farmer. 44 

The New Jersey farmers were ultimately pacified with token financial 
settlements, according to interviews with descendants still living the area. 45 
Joseph Clemente says that his father told him the family had been "paid 
off" by DuPont after the cattle died suddenly during the war. The Clemente 
farm lay just across the road from the Chamber Works. His grandfather had 
been a wartime manager inside the Chamber Works and his family owned a 
construction firm that had helped to build the plant; accordingly, his father 
accepted DuPonts cash settlement. It wouldnt have been very good if my 
family had caused a lot of stink about the episode, Clemente said. 

All we knew is that DuPont released some chemical that burned up 
all the peach trees around here, a second resident, Angelo 


Giordano, whose father James was one of the original plaintiffs, told the 
medical writer Joel Griffiths, who visited the orchard country in 1997. 
The trees were no good after that, so we had to give up on 
the peaches. 

Their horses and cows also acted sick and walked stiffly, recalled his 
sister Mildred. "Could any of that have been the fluoride?" she asked. 
According to veterinary toxicologists, various symptoms she went on to 
detail are cardinal signs of fluoride toxicity. The Giordano family has been 
plagued by bone and joint problems, too, Mildred added. Recalling the 
settlement received by the Giordano family, Angelo told Griffiths that "my 
father said he got about $200. 

The New Jersey farmers were blocked in their legal challenge by the 
government's refusal to reveal the key piece of information that would 
have settled the case — the amount of fluoride DuPont had vented into the 
atmosphere during the war. "Disclosure ... would be injurious to the 
military security of the United States, wrote Manhattan Project Major C. 
A. Taney Jr." 

Gotshalk, the farmers' attorney, was outraged at the stonewalling. He 
called it a callous disregard for the rights of people and accused the 
Manhattan Project of using the sovereign power of the government to 
escape the consequences of what undoubtedly 
was done." 47 

Gotshalk was right. A once-secret memorandum sent to General 
Groves in Washington — which Gotshalk and the farmers never 
saw — reveals that the wartime DuPont plant was belching out mass 
quantities of hydrogen fluoride: at least 30,000 pounds, and perhaps as 
much as 165,000 pounds, was expelled over the adjacent farmland each 
month. 48 

The scale of the pollution was explained to General Groves. DuPont 
was then producing 1,500,000 pounds of HF each month for its 
commercial Freon-producing [Kinetics] plant, according to his deputy 
Major C. A. Taney. "Assuming that the losses were only 1 percent at 
Kinetics, the amount vented to the atmosphere would be about equal to the 
average loss from the Government facilities at the Chamber Works during 
the worst months of 1944," Major Taney wrote. But the pollution might be 
much worse, he added, in which case the lion's share of the blame would 
be attributable to DuPont's commercial operations. "If the losses at 
Kinetics ran as 


high as 10 percent, which is possible, the fumes produced at the 
Chamber Works would obviously be caused to the greatest extent by 
DuPonts own operations and not by the Government facilities, the memo 

The memo to Groves is probably the smoking gun tying DuPont to the 
reported injuries. The emissions data would certainly have been crucial 
courtroom ammunition for the plaintiffs, according to the scientist 
Kathleen M. Thiessen, an expert on risk analysis and on the health effects 
of hydrogen fluoride" She notes that the amount of fluoride spilled over the 
orchards and farms in 1944 from the Chamber Works — at least 30,000 
pounds monthly — is consistent with the injuries reported within a 
ten-kilometer radius around the DuPont plant. The air concentrations 
could easily have been high enough to cause vegetation damage, and if they 
are high enough to cause vegetation damage they are high enough to cause 
damage to livestock eating that pasture," the scientist estimated. 

Could the fluoride have hurt the local citizens too? 

It is going to depend on where they lived and how much of that local 
produce [they ate], Thiessen explained. The reports of high blood fluoride 
levels in local citizens, and of badly contaminated local produce, were 
again consistent with human fluoride injury, she added. 

Denied the government data, the farmers settled their lawsuit, and 
their case has long since been forgotten. But the Garden State peach 
growers unknowingly left their imprint on history. Their complaints of 
sickness reverberated through the corridors of power in Washington and 
triggered Harold Hodge's intensive secret bomb-program research on the 
health effects of fluoride. 

"Because of complaints that animals and humans have been injured 
by hydrogen fluoride fumes in [the New Jersey] area," reads a 1945 memo 
to General Groves from a deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Cooper B. Rhodes, 
although there are no pending suits involving such claims, the University 
of Rochester is conducting experiments to determine the toxic effect of 
fluoride." 50 

How the Manhattan 
Project Sold Us Fluoride 

Newburgh, Harshaw, and Jim Conant's Ruse 

For half a century assurances from the Public Health Service that water 
fluoridation is safe have rested on the results of the 1945 
New-burgh-Kingston Fluorine-Caries Trial, in which the health of 
children from the fluoridated town of Newburgh, New York, were 
compared for ten years with children from neighboring nonfluoridated 
Kingston. But recently declassified documents link the wartime Public 
Health Service's interest in fluoride to the Manhattan Project. And a trail 
of papers showing how bomb-program scientists from the University of 
Rochester secretly monitored the Newburgh experiment, studying 
biological samples from local citizens — and crudely manipulating at least 
one other wartime study of fluoride's dental and toxic effects — suggests 
that Newburgh was simply another cold war human experiment, serving 
the interests of the nuclear industrial state. 

THE VIEW FROM the Old Firehouse on Broadway in the city of 
Newburgh, New York, is one of the more majestic in the Empire State. 
The boulevard climbs purpose-straight through the center of town from 
the valley below, and whipped by a January wind, a lone pedestrian can 
see east across the mighty Hudson River to a spine of rolling hills in the 
Connecticut distance. In the spring of 1945 the wind carried the laughter 
of hundreds of excited school children as they chattered their way to a 
free public-health clinic inside the Old Firehouse. Doctors wanted to 
examine the children. 


Newburgh had become only the second place in the United States to 
artificially add fluoride to public water supplies. 

Last week came news that fluorine is to be tried out with whole towns as 
guinea pigs, Time announced approvingly in April : 944' The magazine 
suggested that, where fluoride was found naturally in the groundwater, 
"dentists' chief occupation is holding citizens' mouths open to display their 
perfect teeth. ' 

It wasn't just teeth the doctors were interested in. The 
New-burgh-Kingston Fluorine-Caries Trial, as it was formally known, was 
considered the most extensive of the several fluoride experiments then 
being planned around the United States. Over a period of ten years a team 
from the New York State Department of Health would conduct a battery of 
psychological exams and X-rays on the Newburgh children, plus 
measuring their blood, urine, height, and weight. The information would be 
compared with data from children in the neighboring fluoride-free town of 
Kingston, New York. The news that Newburgh would host the experiment 
created a buzz among local citizens. The gritty, blue-collar industrial town 
was home to a large population of immigrant Italian Americans as well as 
African Americans who had come from the South. Most considered 
themselves fortunate to be early recipients of a new public-health measure. 

"I can remember a lot of excitement as a young child," remembered a 
lifelong Newburgh resident and former Mayor, Audrey Carey, who 
regularly attended the Broadway clinic in 1945 as a child. Careys parents 
were poor, she explained. Her father became only the second African 
American on the Newburgh police force, and the family was grateful for 
the daughters free health checkups. 

In the front room there was a dental chair and someone would check 
your teeth and you would see the nurse," Carey recalled. "You would have 
your height, your weight [measured, and] they would do some urine. I can 
remember that occurring every month of the year for a very long time. 

The tests were designed to answer a simple safety question — whether 
the chemical produced nondental health problems (a medi cal agenda that, 
of course, was not publicized to local citizens). Are there any cumulative 
effects — beneficial or otherwise, on tissues and organs other than the 
teeth — of long-continued ingestion of 


such small concentrations ... [of fluoride]? the doctors explained to their 
colleagues in various academic publications and conferences on the topic' 

Some of the most powerful voices in the nation were asking similar 
questions about fluoride's toxicity — with wartime urgency. Earlier in the 
fall of 1943 President Roosevelt s science adviser, James Conant, had 
organized a major Conference on Fluoride Metabolism, secretly convened 
on behalf of the Manhattan Project. 

The conference was held on January 6, 1944, in New York City, and 
conference transcripts and letters from Conant are among the first 
documents that connect the atomic-bomb program to water fluoridation 
and to the Public Health Service (PHS).' Weapon makers wanted to use the 
health service as a wartime camouflage, a fig leaf for the atomic bomb. In 
a letter dated September 25, 1943, Conant explained to the chief of the 
Division of Industrial Hygiene, J. J. Townsend, that a "consultant" Dr. 
Stafford Warren would secretly provide the conference financing. This 
consultant, of course, was none other than Colonel Stafford Warren, the 
Manhattan Projects Medical Director. 

It is sincerely hoped that the Public Health Service will be willing to 
sponsor the conference and to send out the invitations to the contributors 
under its own letterhead, Conant wrote to Townsend. All the 
arrangements such as the selection of the speakers will be taken care of by 
Dr. Warren. The purpose of this letter," Conant added, "is to assure you of 
the importance of this symposium and of the real need for the information 
in connection with the war effort. However, this picture of the purpose of 
the meeting is for your information only, and it is desirable that the 
impression be given that the interest is in industrial hazards only." 

Dr. Townsend replied that if the Public Health service could review the 
agenda and "the qualifications of the individuals who might be invited to 
attend . . . the Surgeon General would be very glad to call such a 
conference. 4 

On January 6, 1944, a Whos Who of the wartime fluoride industry 
passed through the doors of New York's Hotel Pennsylvania. Mingling 
were the top medical men from the army and from the companies and 
universities building the atomic bomb, including DuPont, Union Carbide, 
Columbia, and Johns Hopkins. Also 


attending were Alcoa s top fluoride expert, Francis Frary; Helmuth Schrenk 
from the Bureau of Mines; the biochemist Wallace Armstrong from the 
University of Minnesota; and Edward J. Largent from the Kettering 

Dr. Paul A. Neal of the National Institutes of Health outlined the critical 
importance of fluoride to the war economy — and emphasized how little 
doctors knew about health effects on workers. Aluminum, magnesium, 
refrigerants, aerosol propellants, insecticides, phosphates for animal feeds, 
hydrofluoric acid ("especially its use as a catalyst in oil refining ), and the 
employment of fluoride fluxes among an estimated 150,000 welders were 
just some of the burgeon ing uses for fluoride in the war effort, Neal 
reported. There was a " definite need," he added, "for careful, thorough 
investigation on workmen who have been exposed for many years to 
fluorides. However, it has been postponed until after the war since such an 
investigation could hardly be made at this time without undue interruption 
of the output of these industries." 5 

The conference organizers had made what seemed to be a surprising 
addition to the guest list: Dr. David B. Ast, chief dental officer of the New 
York State Health Department. Dr. Ast was then preparing to add sodium 
fluoride to the drinking water of Newburgh, New York, in a stated bid to 
improve dental health in children. Although the conference had been 
secretly arranged by the Manhattan Project — whose industrial contractors 
were concerned that workers in bomb factories would be poisoned by 
fluoride — the dental researcher quickly justified his attendance at the 
conference. Military officials and industrial contractors heard a conference 
report that animal tests were of doubtful value" in studying fluoride 
toxicity in humans, and that there was confusion over amounts that "may 
cause deleterious effects in adults." Dr. Ast then boldly volunteered a 
solution.' He suggested that researchers could examine whether fluoride in 
drinking water was harmful to people, and thereby help to determine 
whether the chemical posed a risk to workers in factories. The 
"accumulated effects of small doses of fluoride in drinking water [could] 
be studied in the U.S.... [and that] evidence of the effects of consumption of 
fluoride over that period of time might [ become apparent], Ast told the 

Until such human fluoride studies could be done, however, a 


temporary workplace standard had to be fixed. Following the morning 
conference session, the Manhattan Project had arranged a luncheon for ten 
persons who will meet to set standards." It is not clear if the ten men who 
met for lunch that day — including the Public Health Services H. Trendley 
Dean, the researcher who had reported that fluoride found naturally in 
water in some areas of the country was associated with fewer 
cavities — knew that their meal was paid for by the Manhattan Project. But 
Harold Hodge knew: he paid the tab with bomb-program funds. "It would 
be convenient if cash can be provided and delivered here by Dr. Harold 
Hodge," the Manhattan Projects Captain Ferry had ordered.' 

A sacrifice was needed from war workers, the lunch team decided. 
Although earlier that morning DuPonts Dr. A. N. Benning had described 
how i part per million of hydrogen fluoride in air etched glass in two hours, 
the diners determined that 6 parts per million of fluoride breathed in factory 
air would be the wartime fluoride standard for an 8-hour workday, six days 
a week. The existing 3-ppm threshold in several states was an arbitrary 
figure not based on any specific evidence, stated Dr. Carl Voegtlin of the 
University of Rochester, who chaired the lunch session. We do not want to 
set up standards that are so extreme on the lower side that it makes it hard to 
operate the plants, Voegtlin added, We can say that in the absence of 
definite evidence, we feel... [emphasis in original]. 

Francis Frary of the Aluminum Company of America doubted whether 
standards were even necessary. "The best guide is the individual response," 
suggested Frary, explaining that "I doubt in the case of man whether there 
is enough hydrofluoric acid in the air that is comfortable to breathe that 
would cause any damage." 

Hodge finessed the problem, suggesting that We can also say that men 
working in plants where we know the atmosphere is varied at all times, 
should by certain screening methods, be protected. 

A lone dissent drifted across the lunch table. "I should think that 
someone is going to be hurt by the long exposure to the irritant," interposed 
Dr. Wallace Armstrong from the University of Minnesota.' 

Following the New York conference, as the giant gaseous diffusion 
plant secretly rose amid the virgin woodland at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 
planning for the public-water-fluoridation experiment 


in Newburgh also proceeded apace. A Technical Advisory Committee was 
selected to guide the New York Health Department. The chairman of that 
expert committee, it was announced, would be a pharmacologist from the 
University of Rochester, Dr. Harold Hodge. "Possible toxic effects of 
fluoride were in the forefront of consideration, the Advisory Committee 

On May 2, 1945, the Hudson River city became the second community 
in the world to be artificially fluoridated. Over the next ten years its 
residents were studied by the New York State Health Department. Secretly, 
in tandem with the states public investigation, Hodge's classified 
"Program F" at the University of Rochester conducted its own studies, 
measuring how much fluoride Newburgh citizens retained in their blood 
and tissues — key information sought by the atomic bomb program." 
Health Department personnel cooperated, shipping blood and placenta 
samples to the Rochester scientists. The samples were collected by Dr. 
David B. Overton, the Department's chief of pediatric studies at 

Hodge was not the only scientist associated with the Newburgh 
experiment who had ties to the bomb program. Dr. Henry L. Barnett, who 
joined the Technical Advisory Committee after the war, was described as a 
pediatrician. But Barnett had also been a Manhattan Project medical 
captain, sent to Japan following the nuclear bomb ings as a leading 
member of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commis-sion. 13 And Dr. Joe 
Howland, who drew control samples of blood from residents of Rochester, 
New York, where no fluoride had been added to water supplies — for 
comparison with fluoride levels in the blood of Newburgh citizens — was 
an especially practiced human experimenter.' On April 10, 1945, for 
example, as chief of Manhattan Project medical investigations searching 
for information on the health effects of bomb program materials, Captain 
Howland had driven a plutonium-laden needle into the arm of Ebb Cade, 
an unsuspecting victim of a Tennessee car accident, who had the simple 
misfortune of landing in the Oak Ridge hospital.' 

Although Dr. David Ast of the New York State Health Department 
clearly realized that water fluoridation could give industry useful 
information about fluoride s health effects on humans — as evinced by his 
testimony at the Manhattan Projects 1943 Conference on Fluoride 
Metabolism (above) — today he maintains that he 


did not know about the Manhattan Projects involvement at New-burgh. If 
I had known, I would have been certainly investigating why, and what the 
connection was, Dr. Ast told me.' 

The final report of the Newburgh Demonstration Project, published in 
1956 in the Journal of the American Dental Association, concluded that 
"small concentrations" of fluoride were safe for U.S. citizens. The 
biological proof — based on work performed ... at the University of 
Rochester Atomic Energy Project — was delivered by Dr. Hodge." 

Publicly the safety verdict boosted federal efforts to promote water 
fluoridation. Privately the data was also helpful to the nuclear weapons 
industry, explained Hymer L. Friedell, the Manhattan Project's first 
medical director. Workers alleging harmful exposure to fluoride would 
now find it more difficult to sue the government or its industrial contractors, 
Friedell stated.' "Any claim about fluorides — here was the evidence that it 
was of no consequence," 
said Friedell. 19 

"Anything that was evidence of a no-effect' level was important 
information," agreed the former Rochester scientist and historian, 
J. Newell Stannard. 20 

Although he claimed no knowledge of the Medical Section's role in the 
Newburgh experiment, Hymer Friedell was not surprised that 
bomb-program scientists had been involved. "There may have been some 
things done that were not ever in the record," he admitted. 

But there were records. In the once-secret archives of the Manhattan 
Projects Medical Section, there exists an entire file on New-burgh. Inside 
the file — coded "G-lo by the U.S. Army — is a startling revelation: The top 
fluoride scientist for the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. H. Trendley Dean, 
the man who later became famous as "the father of fluoridation," had 
secretly opposed the Newburgh fluoridation experiment, fearing fluoride's 
toxicity. 21 

Dean's opposition was a potential disaster. News that the leading 
fluoride scientist from the PHS was against adding fluoride to Newburgh's 
water — on the grounds of toxicity — would certainly have frightened the 
Newburgh citizens, perhaps aborted the nations water-fluoridation 
program entirely, and eventually have alerted nuclear workers to the 
danger of handling fluorides. 

But Deans dissent was never made public. Instead, Harold 
Hodge passed the troubling news on to Colonel Stafford Warren at Oak 

Dear Staff: Hodge wrote on September 15, 1944. Here is a copy of the 
current file relating to the Kingston-Newburgh study. If desired, I would be 
glad to come down to your place and talk this problem over. Sincerely, 
Harold. (Scrawled on the letter in what may be Warrens handwriting is a 
note: Return to Medical Section files.")" 

Enclosed with Hodge s letter are key documents detailing the planning 
and protocol for the Newburgh experiment. The Manhattan Project was, 
indeed, deeply interested in public water fluoridation. The papers include 
letters from Hodge to Newburgh planners requesting additional "bone" 
studies — key information sought by the bomb program — and an agenda for 
a meeting of the Newburgh Technical Advisory Committee, with the word 
Warren scrawled across the top. 23 

The G-io file also records Dean's opposition to water fluoridation. His 
showdown with the Newburgh planners occurred at 2:00 PM on April 24, 
1944, at the Department of Health s offices at 80 Centre Street in New York 
City, according to the Advisory Committee meeting minutes sent to 
Colonel Warren.- Dr. Harold Hodge chaired the meeting. Almost 
immediately, a question of cumulative poisoning was raised. This is the 
crux of the whole problem of toxicity as it relates to this study," meeting 
minutes record. 

Dr. Dean took the floor. The PHS expert explained that in parts of the 
country with high levels of groundwater fluoride (8 ppm) he had seen 
evidence of "toxic effects" in local residents, including " bone changes" 
and "cataracts." He wanted more time "to study lower concentrations to see 
at what level the effects disappear," he told the committee. Dean worried 
that fluoride posed a special risk to the elderly; he told the committee that 
he feared Newburgh's citizens might experience "cumulative effects past 
middle age." The govern ment expert explained that if, for example, a 
persons kidneys did not work well, that person would be at greater risk for 
poisoning as more fluoride accumulated in their body. According to the 
Technical Advisory Committee meeting minutes, an unanswered question 
about the pending experiment was what to look for in the way of 


evidences of early intoxication. Dr. Dean recommended that both the 
child and the past middle age groups be considered. With the renal 
impairment common to older age groups, fluorine intake and output even 
in small concentrations may not be balanced." 

But Hodge and his Newburgh team were anxious to proceed. Much 
publicity had already been given to the proposed experiment, recalled Dr. 
Edward S. Rogers of the New York State Department of Health. Similarly, 
another Advisory Committee member, Dr. Philip Jay from the University 
of Michigan, felt this was the propitious time for such a study from a 
psychological standpoint. Another Committee member alluded to 
pressure from Washington policy makers. While her own feeling 
was conservative, noted Dr. Katherine Bain of the U.S. Department of 
Labor's Children's Bureau, "the project had the approval of the Children s 
Bureau. (The Children s Bureau was financing the Newburgh experiment.) 

Chairman Hodge called a final Advisory Committee vote at 4: 15 PM, 
on whether to proceed with the experiment. Dean was the lone voice in 
opposition. Dr. Dean did not agree that the proposed program could be 
considered a perfectly safe procedure from a public health point of view," 
the meeting minutes record. Nevertheless, the committee voted in favor of 
the experiment to fluoridate Newburgh's water. 

Shortly afterwards, as wartime pressures mounted in that summer of i^ 
Dean performed an unreported but spectacular flip-flop, transforming 
himself from foe to friend of water fluoridation. Just three months after 
giving Newburgh the thumbs-down, Dean announced that he now favored 
adding fluoride to public drinking water in the city of Grand Rapids, 
Michigan. He would be one of the lead investigators, comparing children's 
teeth for ten years with another neighboring nonfluoridated city, Muskegon. 
Six months later, on January 25, 1945, America's great fluoride experiment 
began. One hundred and seven barrels of sodium fluoride were delivered to 
Grand Rapids, where, at 4:00 PM city technicians gingerly began tipping it 
into the citys drinking water supply. 

Dean's wartime gyration was well rewarded. In 1948 he was appointed 
the first director of the National Institute of Dental Research, and in 1953 
he took a senior position with the American Dental Association. Until now 
Deans dissent on Newburgh has 

" how the Manhattan project sold us fluoride 87 never been 

made public. The government has long dismissed 
claims that any of its scientists ever endorsed water fluoridation despite 
reservations regarding its safety.' 

When the scientist and historian Newell Stannard was told of the 
once-classified correspondence between Hodge and his Manhattan Project 
bosses on Newburgh — as well as the military s involvement in the public 
water fluoridation experiment — he was surprised but saw the logic. I 
dont think [the military] was really interested in water fluoridation. I think 
they were looking for information on toxicity on fluorine, and fluorides," 
he said. 

But former Newburgh Mayor Audrey Carey is appalled at the news that 
medical officials from the atomic weapons establishment secretly 
monitored and studied her fellow citizens during the cold war. "It is 
reprehensible; it is shocking; it reminds me of the experiments that were 
done regarding syphilis down in Alabama [in which African Americans 
were not told that they had the venereal disease, so government doctors 
could study them]," she said in an interview.' Now Carey wants answers 
from the government about the secret history of fluoride and about the 
Newburgh fluoridation experiment. I absolutely want to pursue it, she 
said. It is appalling to do any kind of experimentation and study without 
people's knowledge and permission." 

Did Harold Hodge and the Rochester bomb scientists suppress or censor 
adverse health findings from the Newburgh study? There is some 
indication that they did; however, as we shall see, prying information from 
the University of Rochester's cold war archive is no easy task, confounding 
the best efforts of a Presidential Commission in 1994. (For a further 
discussion of censorship and of Newburgh health effects today, see 
chapters 7 and 17.) 

Evidence that military censors did remove information about fluoride's 
harmful effects can be seen in another study performed by Rochester 
bomb-program scientists, published in the August x 948 issue of the Journal 
of the American Dental Association. A comparison with the original, 
unpublished secret version found by the medical writer Joel Griffiths in the 
files of the Manhattan Projects Medical Section illustrates the ways cold 
war authorities censored damaging information on fluoride, to the point of 


In these files Manhattan Project Captain Peter Dale at the University of 
Rochester reported in the second half of 1943 on the preliminary results of 
two dental investigations, a study of oral conditions among laboratory 
fluoride workers at Columbia University, and a study of dental conditions 
among workers exposed to dilute and anhydrous hydrofluoric acid in 

The results from Columbia, where scientists at the War Research 
Laboratories were using fluoride to enrich uranium, were disappointing, 
even worrying. Fluoride did not prevent cavities, Captain Dale suggested. 
Of the ninety-five laboratory workers examined, "the total number of tooth 
surfaces filled and attacked by caries was not significantly altered by 
exposure to hydrofluoric acid vapor," Dale reported. 29 The fluoride might 
have been producing a harmful effect. Dr. Homer Priest, a leading fluorine 
scientist, reported that his "teeth seemed to be deteriorating rapidly." Dr. 
Priest also told the Medical Section that his gums bled more freely and that 
there has been a progressive increase in the degree of slowness of healing 
and of pain in the period he has been doing 
this work." 30 

The Columbia data were never published in the scientific literature. But 
the results of the second dental study, on the laborers at the Harshaw 
Chemical Company in Cleveland, became an important piece of evidence 
for the idea that fluoride reduced cavities. 31 The study is particularly 
illustrative. As we saw earlier, work conditions at Harshaw Chemical 
Company were appalling. Two workers had been killed by fluoride acid in 
1945. So much fluoride and uranium was escaping from the plant that the 
FBI had been called in. And the Atomic Energy Commission proposed 
secretly tracking former workers, to discover the incidence of lung 
cancer. 32 None of that was made public, however. All that the medical 
community learned about Harshaw and fluoride was from a study 
published in the 1948 issue of the Journal of the American Dental 
Association — a study "based on work performed ... for the Manhattan 
Project at the Uni versity of Rochester at the suggestion of Harold C. 
Hodge" — that reported that the men had better teeth. When compared with 
the original secret study, the published version reveals crude censorship 
and data distortion, according to the toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix, who 
read both versions. 33 


• The secret version states that most of the men had few or no teeth; they 

were "in large proportion edentulous [toothless] or nearly edentulous. 
This information, however, was left out of the published version. The 
published study merely notes that the fluoride workers had fewer 
cavities than did unexposed workers. 

• The published version omits the suggestion that fluoride was 
actually harming the mens teeth. While the secret version states, " 
There was some indication [teeth] may have been etched and pol 
ished by [the acid], and that exposure of the teeth to the acid 
may have contributed to the attrition observed, the public version, 
instead, concocts an observation seen nowhere in the original. It 
states that strangely enough, dental erosion or decalcification of 
enamel and dentin commonly seen in workers exposed to inor 
ganic acids [fluoride] was not seen. The published version omits 
information about the harmful effect that fluoride may have had 
on teeth, ignoring physical evidence that indicated otherwise. 

A lie, commented Mullenix. The published version had simply 
reversed the original medical observation that fluoride may have corroded 
and consumed the men's teeth, she said. 

• The published version implies that the men were at fault for refusing to 
wear protective masks, instead preferring to chew tobacco or gum for 
protection." The secret study makes no mention of masks (and a later 
Ohio State study criticized Harshaw for not giving its workers protective 

• The published study states that men "with clean mouths" had good teeth. 
Men "with neglected mouths" had "a peculiar brownish deposit which 
seemed to cover the enamel of the anterior teeth in large quantities." The 
secret version, however, makes no distinction in the mens oral hygiene, 
noting that all men, as a group, neglected their mouths." The published 
report therefore makes the bad, or discolored, teeth appear to be the 
workers fault. The dirty brown teeth were now a function of the mens 
hygiene, Mullenix remarked. In other words, [the censored study is] 
blaming the victim for not having a clean mouth. 


The published Harshaw study helped to shift the national medical debate 
over exposure to industrial fluoride. Several studies during the 1940S had 
already shown that acid in an industrial environment hurt workers teeth, 
and Dr. Priests experience at Columbia University suggested that the same 
was happening with wartime fluoride workers. Now, said Phyllis Mullenix, 
instead of blaming fluoride for eroding teeth, with the help of "a clever 
editing job" the published study became a piece of dental propaganda that 
buries the American fluoride worker. 

It totally changes the viewpoint, Mullenix told me. This makes me 
ashamed to be a scientist." Of other cold war-era fluoride safety studies, 
she asks, Were they all done like this? 

Recently, in Cleveland, a roomful of surviving Harshaw fluoride 
workers erupted in grim laughter when told about Harold Hodge s censored 
dental study. I showed Allen Hurt the once-secret results of the long-ago 
measurements of fluoride in his urine, analyzed by AEC doctors at the 
University of Rochester; the fluoride was recorded at the extraordinarily 
high levels of 17.8 mg/liter." Today he is plagued with arthritis, he says, 
while many of his Harshaw friends died young of cancer. Nevertheless, 
smiling a largely toothless grin, Hurt commented on the published dental 
study: They had to come up with something." 


A Subterranean Channel of 

AFTER THE WAR Harold Hodge became the leading figure promoting 
water fluoridation in the United States and around the world, while the 
University of Rochester served as a kind of queen bee for cold war-era 
dentistry, hatching a generation of dental-school researchers who were 
unanimous in support of a central role for fluoride in their profession. 

If you look at the credentials of the people who have been impor tant in 
academic dentistry, you will find that Hodges interests here at Rochester 
were responsible for many of those people getting their expertise, noted 
the toxicologist Paul Morrow, who worked alongside Hodge for almost 
twenty years. The fluoridation of public water supplies was the crowning 
glory of Harold Hodges career. He pioneered [fluoridation] very 
adamantly," Morrow pointed out. "That was one of the most difficult 
things he did. There was an extraordinary resistance to the use of rat 
poison in public water supplies. 

Today, however, revelations that Hodge concealed wartime infor 
mation about fluoride's central nervous system effects in atomic workers, 
secretly studied the health of the subjects of the water fluoridation 
experiment at Newburgh, New York, on behalf of the Manhattan Project, 
and gave information on fluoride safety to the U.S. Congress that later 
proved inaccurate (see chapter ii), all call into question Hodges agenda as 
the grand architect of Americas great postwar fluoride experiment. 

Even during his lifetime, researchers had begun to examine his career 
more closely. In 1979 a journalist, John Marks, reported that 


Hodge had helped the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its search 
for a mind-control drug. In his book, The Search for the Manchurian 
Candidate, Marks described how the CIA had given the hallucinogenic 
drug LSD to unsuspecting Americans. He wrote that Hodge and his 
Rochester research team had been pathfinders in that research program, 
figuring out a way to radioactively tag LSD.' 

I knew he had something to do with the CIA, but that is all, recalls the 
scientist and historian J. Newell Stannard, who worked alongside Hodge at 
Rochester in 1 947' 

Marks may have only scratched the surface of Dr. Hodges work for the 
CIA. The journalist filed Freedom of Information Act requests and 
received scores of heavily redacted files. Although the names of people and 
institutions have mostly been blacked out, Marks identified several of the 
files as referring to CIA contract work at the University of Rochester. The 
letters, reports, and accounting statements make chilling reading. They are 
the bureaucratic account of a laboratory and its scientists eagerly hunting 
for chemicals to selectively affect the central nervous system and to 
produce symptoms even more bizarre than LSD. 

The CIA studied fluoride as a potential mind-controlling substance. A 
March 16, 1966, memo from the TSD (most likely Technical Services 
Division) titled Behavioral Control Materials and Advanced Research 
reports on the disabling effects of dinitro-fluoride derivatives of acetic 
acid that are currently undergoing clinical tests.'" 

For many, Harold Hodges image of respectability collapsed completely 
in the late 1990s. The reporter Eileen Welsome found a once-classified 
memo that implicated Hodge in perhaps the most diabolical human 
experiments ever conducted in the United States. On September 5, 1945, he 
attended a University of Rochester planning meeting with several other 
scientists. Their purpose: to discuss the research "protocol" for injecting 
plutonium into unsuspecting and uninformed patients at the University of 
Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital' A second AEC document, 
reporting on the experiments, thanks Harold Hodge ... [who] participated 
in the early planning of the work and frequently made general and specific 
suggestions which contributed much to the success of the program. ' In the 
1990s the federal government settled a lawsuit with 


family members of those plutonium experiment victims, paying 
approximately $400,000 to each family.' 

Hodge oversaw additional injections in Rochester hospital patients 
during the late 19405, to find out how much uranium would produce 
"injury.' In the fall and winter of that year seven people would be injected 
with uranium in the Metabolic Unit at Rochester s Strong Memorial 
Hospital. A tunnel connecting the Army Annex to the Hospital permitted 
the uranium and plutonium to be transported to the ward in secrecy. 

On October I, 1946, "a young white, unmarried female, aged 24 was 
"injected with 584 micrograms of uranium." She was "essentially normal 
except for chronic undernutrition which probably resulted from emotional 
maladjustments, the report stated. In early 1947 a sixty-one-year-old white 
male alcoholic was admitted to the hospital with a suspected gastric lesion. 
Although the patient did not appear ill, the scientists noted, as he had no 
home, he willingly agreed to enter the Metabolic Unit. Like the other 
patients, the man did not know he was the subject of an experiment. Nor 
was there any attempt to argue that the uranium would have any therapeutic 
effect on his condition. Injections were explicitly given to find the dose 
of ... uranium which will produce minimal injury to the human kidney, a 
summary noted. The Rochester scientists believed that a human subject 
should tolerate 70 micrograms of uranium per kilogram of body weight. 
Accordingly, on January to, the same cooperative ... short, gray-haired 
man was injected with 71 micrograms of uranium per kilogram.' 

In the 1950s Dr. Hodge was a key figure in the Boston Project. In this 
series of experiments, Hodge arranged for Dr. William Sweet of the 
Massachusetts General Hospital to inject the highest possible dose" of 
various uranium compounds into patients hospitalized with brain cancer. 
The researchers wanted to learn the quantity of uranium to which atomic 
workers could safely be exposed.' 

In 1995 a former senior government physicist, Karl Z. Morgan, 
described Hodge during these cold war years as a particular enthu siast of 
human experiments. Morgan had visited Hodges laboratory and years later 
told government investigators that Dr. Hodge had been one of the 
Rochester scientists itching, you might say, to get closer to Homo 
Sapiens. 9 


The Trapezius Squeeze 

TWO FORMER ROCHESTER students, Judith and James Mac-Gregor, 
were able to get a close look at the unique influence Hodge exerted over the 
U.S. medical establishment. The pair had followed Hodge to San Francisco 
in 1969, when the sixty-five-year-old became professor emeritus at the 
University of San Francisco Medical School. His office door was 
frequently open, and they listened in awe as the old man clutched the 
telephone, reaching across the country, making decisions on faculty 
appointments at medical schools, on the composition of scientific boards 
and panels, and on the various national committees that set standards for 
chemical exposure in the 
workplace. 10 

"He would be talking to leaders all over the country. Herb Stok-inger 
[the former head of occupational medicine at PHS], people that chaired 
public health committees for the government would be asking for 
comments or recommendations on appointments on senior committees, 
and things like that, stated Judith MacGregor. He was just incredible at 
getting things done, she added. 

A great persuader, noted J. Newell Stannard, who worked with Hodge 
in the 1940s at the University of Rochester. He had people that would be 
grateful to do most anything if Harold asked them to do it. 

While Hodge wielded the cold steel of political power in the medical 
world, he generally did so by staving behind the scenes. According to 
colleagues, his influence was subtle and covert. "He was supremely apt at 
getting difficult decisions made in the way that he thought they should be 
without ever raising his voice or appearing to be confrontational," 
remarked James MacGregor, now a senior official at the U.S. Food and 
Drug Administration. "He was perhaps the world's master at that," he 

He could leave the fewest ripples on the water, said Judith 
Mac-Gregor. More than a decade after his death, she can still feel the old 
man s fingers slipping around her shoulder and neck, her resolve buckling. 
She called this Hodges trapezius squeeze — his signature greeting, which 
involved taking hold of the shoulder muscle called the trapezius and 
slowly tightening his fingers, all the while looking into your eyes. 
MacGregor called Hodge Grandpapa behind his back — but she was 
powerless at the old mans touch. He would 


kind of squeeze your muscle a little, she remembered. It was like a 
handshake. You knew that when he gave you the trapezius squeeze he 
was going to ask for something. And you knew that you were going to do 
it. You couldnt refuse the guy. 

Dr. Harold Hodge, it now seems, performed a trapezius squeeze on us 

"A Whole Song and Dance" 

PROBING HODGES SECRET fluoride work at the University of 
Rochester is difficult. Hodge died in 1990. His archive remains closed. 
And even the multimillion dollar resources of a U.S. Presidential 
Committee in the 1990S could not breach Rochester s cold war defenses, 
according to the attorney Dan Guttman, a top investigator in that effort. 

Guttman has a quick sense of humor and a sharp mind. He needed both 
in 1994 for his new job as executive director of President Bill Clintons 
Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE, also 
known as the Clinton Radiation Commission). The attorney had gone to 
law school with Hillary Clinton. He was tapped by the president to 
investigate the hundreds of radiation experiments that scientists had 
performed on unsuspecting U.S. citizens during the cold war — including 
some on pregnant women, retarded children, and prisoners." 

Perhaps the most notorious were the experiments described above with 
plutonium and uranium that Hodge had helped to plan at the University of 
Rochester. Guttman therefore wanted access to the University's cold 
war-era files. He had attended the school as an undergraduate in the 1960s 
but was "stunned" to learn that his alma mater had been "the Grand 
Central Station of bio-medical research" for the Manhattan Project.' The 
former student approached Rochester's President Thomas A. Jackson at an 
alumni gathering. On President Clintons behalf he asked for Jackson s c 
ooperation in obtaining documents from the university archives. Jackson 
seemed completely uninterested, Guttman recalled. I was very disturbed 
by the University s reaction which was, for practical Purposes, obstructing 
fact finding." 

It was not just the University of Rochester who stiffed the U.S. 
Presidents Human Radiation Commission. Guttman found himself 


sitting at a table with Pentagon bureaucrats and lawyers, demanding secret 
military documents about medical experiments performed on U.S. citizens. 
At first the Defense Department seemed helpful, Guttman explained; but 
when the Commission stumbled upon the existence of an inner-sanctum 
military organization — which appeared to have been in charge of cold 
war-era human experiments by both military and civilian agencies — the 
Pentagon suddenly froze. Guttman remembers a specific meeting with top 
military officials. He asked for all existing records of the Joint Panel on the 
Medical Aspects of Atomic Warfare, as the secret group had been known. 
The Joint Panel had included representatives of the CIA, the military, the 
PHS, the NIH, and the AEC. 

The reaction of the Defense people was, We are not supposed to give 
you that," Guttman recalled. We said Excuse us? This was the whole 
point [of the Clinton Radiation Commission]! Guttman asked for the 
documents nicely. He asked in writing. He asked for six months. He was 
stiffed. It was stunning, he said. All the documents were allegedly 
destroyed, shredded, he says he was finally told. We went through a 
whole song and dance. 

Guttman hoped that the Joint Panel documents would shed light on 
so-called cut-out or work for others arrangements, in which the true 
sponsor of a medical research project is concealed. For example, Guttman 
explained, is the CIA having its work done by some innocuous entity that 
is then funded by some other agency? We were hoping that some of the 
work for others might have become more apparent through the documents 
of this interagency group. ( Dr. Harold Hodges work for the CIA at 
Rochester had been done using precisely such a cut-out arrangement, 
according to the journalist John Marks. The Geschickter Fund for Medical 
Research — a Washington, DC, foundation sympathetic to the CIA — had 
nominally provided Hodge funds, although money secretly came from the 
government intelligence agency.) 

The shredding of public documents about human experiments and 
military involvement with civilian health agencies during the cold war left 
Guttman scratching his head. You ask as a citizen, what was that about? 
he said. But the Clinton Radiation Commission was able to make a historic 
discovery. Guttman s team learned that documents had been classified 
during the cold war, not just to 


protect secrets from the Russians, but also to hide medical information 
from U.S. families. When the Radiation Commission got started, 
Guttman explained, people thought that [the government] kept too 
many secrets but that was for national security reasons. What we 
discovered was that there was a subterranean channel of 
secret-keeping, where those on the inside knew that this was not 
national security, and could not be kept secret for national security 
reasons, and they had a whole other category, embarrassment to the 
government, resulting damage to the programs, or liability to the 
government and its contractors. 

Censorship of the health claims of injured atomic workers, and of 
medical reports produced by bomb program scientists, was performed 
by the Insurance Branch and by the Public Relations section of the 
AEC and the Manhattan Project." Guttman s team found explicit 
instructions to medical censors, written by the AECs medical advisor 
at Oak Ridge. They are worth citing at length: 

There are a large number of papers which do not violate 
security, but do cause considerable concern to the 
Atomic Energy Commission Insurance Branch and may 
well compromise the public prestige and best interests of 
the Commission. Papers referring to levels of soil and 
water contamination surrounding Atomic Energy 
Commission installations, idle speculation on the future 
genetic effects of radiation and papers dealing with 
potential process hazards to employees are definitely 
prejudicial to the best interests of the government. Every 
such release is reflected in an increase in insurance 
claims, increased difficulty in labor relations and 
adverse public sentiment. Following consultation with 
the Atomic Energy Commission Insurance Branch, the 
following declassification criteria appears desirable. If 
specific locations or activities of the Atomic Energy 
Commission and/or its contractors are closely associated 
with statements and information which would invite or 
tend to encourage claims against the Atomic Energy 
Commission or its contractor such portions of articles to 
be published should be reworded or deleted. 


The effective establishment of this policy necessitates review 
by the Atomic Energy Commission Insurance Branch, as well 
as by the Medical Division, prior to declassification." 

Guttman was baffled by what he discovered. Harold Hodge and his 
Rochester team had been given the job of monitoring workers' health 
across the entire bomb-program complex — collecting and measuring 
fluoride, uranium, and other toxic chemicals in the workers' urine — and 
acting as a repository for their complete medical records." It had been a 
massive undertaking. Tens of thousands of men and women were 
employed in the factories making the atomic bomb. Rochester and DuPont 
each acquired a new IBM punch-card tabulating machine, a forerunner of 
the computer, to tabulate and analyze the data. Dan Guttman discovered 
"boxes" of this raw information. But something was missing. The big 
unanswered question" about the Rochester data, Guttman explained, was 
the absence of any epidemiological analysis of worker health. 

What was happening with all that worker safety data that was going to 
Rochester, and what were they doing with it?" wondered Guttman. "I was 
really hoping we would find more than just lots of charts, [that] we would 
find somebody analyzing this stuff. Rochester was an arm of the 
government, so there should have been some summary, something [like a 
letter to the AEC stating]: Dear Head of the Division of Biology and 
Medicine, this is what we are finding.' Where is all that stuff?" Guttman 
asked. "Rochester was extremely uncooperative." 

Guttman's committee was asked to uncover information about 
human-radiation experiments. It had not asked questions about fluoride, 
however. Was it possible the team had missed other human experiments 
performed by the Manhattan Project and the AEC? 

"Sure," Guttman told me. "On fluorine I would not be surprised if there 
were missing experiments. I would be surprised if there were missing 
radiation experiments, but fluorine, I wouldn't be surprised." 

The University of Rochester did perform human experiments using 
fluoride. We may never know exactly how many experiments, 


nor the souls experimented upon. Nevertheless, a paper trail of 
now-yellowing documents once again leads back to the "Manhattan 
Annex" and the passageway to the Strong Memorial Hospital. Rochester 
scientists gave fluoride to "patients having kidney diseases'" to determine 
how much fluoride their damaged kidneys could excrete.' And in a single, 
cryptic fragment of a declassified Rochester document, a chemical 
compound, "boron trifluoride," is listed as being "inhaled" for thirty days. 
Scientists took measurements, including dental studies and weight 
response. One measure ment — item "H" — reads simply: "Human excretion 
of F."' 

Postscript: The New World 

A M O N T H AFTER the Hiroshima bombing, in September 1945 the Danish 
health expert Kaj Roholm made his first trip to the United States. He 
wanted to meet America's fluoride researchers and to study wartime 
advances in American medicine.' Top doctors regarded him highly. The 
Rockefeller Foundation offered financial support and arranged 
introductions. Roholm traveled widely along the East Coast, visiting 
hospitals and the medical schools at Yale, Harvard, and John's Hopkins. 
After the horror and deprivation of wartime Europe, the Dane found the 
country "inspiring and hospitable, though he did note that the absence of 
public-health care made him think that it would be a catastrophe to get sick 
in the United States." 20 

At the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, Roholm met 
with the senior dental officials Frank J. McClure and H. Trendley Dean. 
There they discussed the fluoride problem." Before the war the American 
Medical Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture had warned 
of the health risk from small amounts of fluorides, and the American 
Dental Association had editorialized against the idea of water 
fluoridation. 21 But in his meetings Roholm discovered that the years of 
conflict had wrought a profound change in Washington's views. "In the 
United States it is common to associate fluoride as a less toxic element than 
previously known," he reported. 2 '- 

In 1944 for example, the Department of Agriculture had increased its 
maximum accepted contaminant level for fluoride pesticides from 1.43 
milligrams of fluoride per kilogram, to 7 mgs F per kgm. 


And in the water-fluoridation experiments involving thousands of U.S. 
citizens, fluoride was being added to public-water supplies in Newburgh, 
New York, and Grand Rapids, Michigan/ 

Roholm saw the danger. He examined X-rays the PHS had taken from a 
region of the United States where there were high levels of natural fluoride 
in the water. The black-and-white images looked familiar. As he had 
observed in the men and women poisoned by fluoride in the Copenhagen 
cryolite factory, Roholm detected numerous cases of typical 
osteosclerosis in the X-rays. The promise of better teeth appeared to be 
worth a great deal to U.S. officials, the Dane mused with dry 

While the therapeutic concentration for this outcome [better teeth] is 
close to the toxic limit," Roholm stated, "this, however, has not prevented 
the Americans from performing several studies. 

The mood was that of great optimism in Bethesda, he wrote. It will be 
very interesting to see the results within the next five to ten years. ' 

Roholm returned to Denmark. Although he did not know it, his days 
were numbered. He was appointed professor of public hygiene at the 
University of Copenhagen on January I, 1948. In February he gave his 
inauguration lecture to students on the history of Danish public-health 
measures. Although his pithy style made the material come alive, 
observers noted that the professor looked pale.' Roholm s first lecture as a 
professor would be his last; stomach cancer had begun its deadly march. 
One month later Roholm entered the hospital. 

The disease tore through his strong body like a wildfire. Each day his 
best friend, Georg Brun, visited him in the Copenhagen hospital. 
Throughout that grim March of 1948, as the scientist lay close to death at 
the age of forty-six, he seemed unable to accept that his life was almost 
over. Both men avoided the truth. I tried to say to him that he would be all 
right," Brun said. "He wouldn't accept anything else. Roholm died of 
cancer of the large intestine on March 29, 1948. He left a wife and two 
young children. 

Kaj Eli Roholm's death was a tragedy for his family and friends and for 
the twentieth century — for all who rely on scientists to tell them the truth 
about the chemicals they handle in the workplace and the risk from 
industrial pollution. 


Robert Kehoe and the 
Kettering Laboratory 

FROM THE DARKNESS it can be difficult to determine the source of a 
shadow. Dr. Robert Arthur Kehoe of the Kettering Laboratory cast such a 
shadow over us all, one of the darkest of the modern era. 

For more than sixty years Americans breathed hundreds of thousands 
of tons of raw poison wafted into the atmosphere from leaded gasoline. 
This toxic air contributed to a medical toll of some 5,000 annual deaths 
from lead-related heart disease and an almost incalculable toll of tragedy 
in the neurological injuries and learning difficulties imposed on children. 
One estimate, based on government data, suggests that from 1927 to 1987, 
68 million young children in the United States were exposed to toxic 
amounts of lead from gasoline, until the additive was finally phased out in 
the United States.' 

For this in good measure we can thank Dr. Kehoe. Dark-haired and 
dark-eyed, Kehoe described himself as a "black Irishman" and claimed to 
be descended from Spaniards who had been shipwrecked on the Irish 
coast during Elizabethan times. The scientist possessed boundless energy, 
and a keen mind, and he could also tell "one hell of a dirty joke," 
colleagues remembered. Others who confronted him professionally, 
however, remembered Kehoe as arrogant and aloof. 2 

For almost fifty years Kehoe occupied some of the commanding 
heights of the nations medical establishment. He was at various points 
president of the American Academy of Occupational Medi- 


cine and president of the American Industrial Hygiene Association; he 
served as a consultant to the Public Health Service, the International Labor 
Organization, and the Atomic Energy Commission.' Kehoe also exercised a 
powerful influence on the publication of medical reports, since he sat on 
the editorial boards of leading scientific publications.' He preached the 
gospel of leaded gasolines safety from his pulpit at the Kettering 
Laboratory for the duration of his entire scientific career.' 

Kehoe did much the same for fluoride, with health consequences of a 
potentially similar magnitude. 

The Fluorine Lawyers and the " Infectious 
Idea of Easy Pickings" 

SPOOKED CORPORATIONS STAMPEDED Kehoe's laboratory following 
World War II. 6 The great factories that had throbbed and roared for the 
long years of national emergency had spewed unprecedented volumes of 
poisonous gas and smoke into the skies over numerous American cities and 
manufacturing areas. There were aluminum plants on the Columbia River 
and at Niagara Falls; uranium plants in New Jersey, Cleveland, and 
Tennessee; steel mills in Pittsburgh; gasoline refineries in Los Angeles; 
and phosphate plants in Florida. These were just some of the industrial 
operations that had won the war for the United States, but from which a 
steady rain of fluoride and other pollutants now fell, endangering the health 
of workers in factories and people living nearby. 

Patriotic U.S. citizens tolerated the smoke of war. When peace arrived, 
they turned to the courts. Perhaps the first to file suit were the injured peach 
farmers from the Garden State, downwind from DuPonts Chamber Works. 
They were quickly followed by numerous additional lawsuits alleging 
fluoride damage to crops, farm animals, and citizens.' 

Soon we had claims and lawsuits around aluminum smelters from 
coast to coast," recalled Alcoa's leading fluoride litigator, Frank Seamans. 
"Once this sleeping giant was awakened, claims and lawsuits were brought 
against all types of plants involving fluoride emissions — steel plants, 
fertilizer plants, oil refineries, and the like," he added.' 


To battle this awakened giant, Seamans and attorneys for other 
beleaguered corporations organized themselves into a self-described 
Fluorine Lawyers Committee, which met regularly through the cold war 
years.' The Committee would eventually include attorneys representing 
several of Americas top corporations, including Aluminum Company 
of Canada, U.S. Steel, Kaiser Aluminum and Steel, Reynolds Metals 
Company, Monsanto Chemical, the Tennessee River Valley Authority 
( TV A), Tennessee Corporation and subsidiaries, Victor Chemical, and 
Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation. Those corporations, 
guided by the needs of the Fluorine Lawyers, and directed by a Medical 
Advisory Committee of doctors from the corporations, funded the 
fluoride research at the Kettering 
Laboratory. 10 

The gathering storm clouds were surveyed after the war at a confidential 
conference at the Mellon Institute on April 30,1946. Among the guests 
filing through the ornately decorated aluminum doorways of the bunkerlike 
structure on Pittsburgh's Fifth Avenue were representatives from several of 
the companies facing fluoride lawsuits and complaints, including Alcoa, 
Pennsylvania Salt, and Harshaw Chemical." 

Robert Kehoe dispatched a loyal young Kettering lieutenant to the 
conference. Although Edward Largents only degree was a BA obtained in 
1935 from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, his willingness to 
sacrifice his own body and the bodies of others on behalf of the Kettering 
Laboratory's corporate clients, had already propelled him to the front line 
of industry's defense against fluoride litigation.' Starting in 1939, the giant 
Pennsylvania Salt Company and the Mead Johnson food company paid for 
a special experimental diet for the Kettering researcher. Pennsylvania Salt 
manufactured numerous fluoride products, including a cryolite pesticide 
spray, while Mead Johnson made a children's food, called Pablum, 
containing animal bone meal. (Bone meal can contain high amounts of 
fluoride.) Largent converted to a human guinea pig for the Kettering 
sponsors, eating, drinking, and breathing large quantities of fluoride for 
several years." Under the direction of a Kettering toxicologist, Francis 
Heyroth, the eager young researcher consumed fluoride in various forms: 
as cryolite, calcium fluoride, hydrogen fluoride, sodium fluoride, and 
sodium fluoroborate. As 


with similar experiments, in which human volunteers breathed lead fumes 
in a Kettering Laboratory gas chamber, the data were subsequently used to 
promote industry s position that moderate levels of fluoride — or lead — in 
the body were in "equilibrium with the environment and, if kept below 
certain thresholds, were both natural and safe. Such a hypothesis was 
immensely practical, of course. Following Largents wartime experiments 
eating cryolite, for example, the Department of Agriculture raised the 
amount of cryolite pesticide residue permitted on agricultural produce, an 
obvious windfall for the Pennsylvania Salt Company.' 

Now, in April 1946, Largent was one of those sitting in the audience at 
the Mellon Institute as the grand old man of prewar fluoride science, 
Alcoa's director of research, Francis Frary, took the stage. Frary explained 
to the Mellon audience some of industry's worries: how fluoride 
accumulated in the human skeleton and how coal had recently been 
identified as an "important" new source of airborne fluoride.' Largent was 
well aware of the legal risks that fluoride posed to corporations. He had 
been battling farmers who had launched court cases against several big 
chemical companies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, alleging damage to 
crops and herds in a postwar barrage of litigation in the Philadelphia and 
Delaware Valley area. Largent described these as almost epidemic." 6 

Industry confronted a potentially devastating cold war domino 
effect — that Americas industrial workers would follow the farmers into 
court. Largent had been monitoring the fluoride exposure inside the 
Pennsylvania Salt Company s two big plants in Natrona and Easton, 
Pennsylvania. The X-rays showed "bone changes" in workers skeletons 
and pointed to a clear and present danger, he stated. "These X-ray data 
could easily be misused by dishonest people to conduct a probably 
successful attempt to obtain compensation, Largent told a colleague from 
the Harshaw Chemical Company in an April 1946 letter that discussed the 
importance of the pending Mellon conference. The infectious idea of easy 
pickings may spread to include damage claims regarding occupational 
injuries," he added.' 

The Mellon Institute audience was captivated by the bold new medical 
theory of a second speaker. According to the roentgen-ologist (X-ray 
expert) Paul G. Bovard, much of the bone damage 


seen on workers X-rays was probably not caused by fluoride, and the 
Danish scientist Kaj Roholm had been a needless worrywart.' x Dr. Bovards 
fresh perspective was terrific news, Largent reminded the Pennsylvania 
Salt Company. Several of [your] employees show bone changes which 
might be successfully, even if it were dishonestly, made to appear like 
fluorine intoxication. The possibility of a roentgenologist being led by a 
dishonest lawyer to make such an error is not too far-fetched; it shows with 
great emphasis how fortunate we are to have the help and interest of a man 
with Dr. Bovard's capabilities." 19 Bovard's fresh thinking would prove 
"invaluable assets to the defense against dishonest claims for 
Largent concluded. 20 

Largent passed on more good news. Following the Mellon conference, 
other U.S. companies had also expressed "intense interest" in the fluoride 
problem. Alcoa's Francis Frary had told Largent that the aluminum 
company might support an expanded research program at Kettering. Other 
companies soon contacted Robert Kehoe directly. The DuPont medical 
director, Dr. G. H. Gehrmann, told Kehoe that DuPont, too, might be 
interested in joining the fluoride research at Kettering!' Such collaboration 
became a reality that summer and fall. On July 26, 1946, industry 
representatives met again, this time in the Philadelphia headquarters of the 
Pennsylvania Salt Company. And by the end of the year DuPont, Universal 
Oil Products, Reynolds Metals, and Alcoa had all agreed to pay for 
expanded fluoride studies at Kettering. Of special interest to sponsors: the 
willingness of the Kettering team to procure additional humans for 
experimentation. "This program should allow for new human subjects and 
should materially contribute to this subject," noted Pennsylvania Salts S. C. 
Ogburn Jr., in a November 1946 letter to Edward Largent. 

More Human Experiments, 

and a Suspicious Scientific Study 

THE EXPANDED RESEARCH program quickly bore fruit, both in fresh 
human experiments and in an influential scientific paper attacking Kaj 
Roholm. In January 1947, as industry checks for the fluoride research 
started to arrive in the Kettering Laboratory 


mailroom, Edward Largent looked around for more human subjects. He did 
not have to look far. Largent sometimes ate in the Ketter-ing lunchroom 
with members of a local African American family, the Blackstones, several 
of whom worked for the University of Cincinnati as laboratory assistants 
and animal handlers. A group of black boys — a wonderful family, Elmo 
and Peanut and Gentry," remembered Edward Largent years later. 22 

The Blackstone brothers had helped Dr. Robert Kehoe in his lead 
experiments. In 1947 a new item appeared on the Blackstones 
menu — extra-dietary fluoride. In May of that year, forty-one-year-old 
Elmo Blackstone began eating fluoride and carefully collecting his urine 
and excreta. The industrial experiments would continue for three and a half 
years, during which time he would consume a startling 12,047 mg of 
fluoride in the form of sodium fluoride and sodium fluoroborate, 
considerably more fluoride than even Lar-gent had ingested. In one 
experiment, begun in June 1948, Elmo was given 84 mg of sodium fluoride 
each week in his food for 130 weeks.' There is no surviving record of 
whether Elmo Blackstone experienced injury as a result of these 
experiments, but the historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner 
describe similar Kettering human experiments with lead as particularly 
pernicious because their objective was not the discovery of a therapy for 
those with lead poisoning but was to gather evidence that could be used by 
industry to prove that lead in the blood was normal and not indicative of 
poisoning by industry. 25 

In 1951 Edward Largent mounted a major assault on the research of Kaj 
Roholm, describing health effects of fluoride exposure in American 
workers that were much less severe than those reported by the Danish 
scientist. 26 His paper laid a medical keystone for Americas cold war 
industrial enterprise. 27 The war had hugely increased U.S. industrial 
dependence on fluoride, a hunger that grew voraciously as the American 
economy began its spectacular cold war expansion, with entire new 
enterprises, such as fluorocarbon plastics, aerosols, refrigerants, uranium 
enrichment, rocket fuels, and agricultural chemicals, all requiring 
that employees breathe and absorb fluoride. 28 By 1975 the government 
estimated that 350,000 men and women in 92 different occupations were 
exposed to fluoride in the workplace. 29 Yet the consequences of that 
chemical exposure 


would be largely overlooked, in part because of Largents 1951 paper, 
published in the influential American Journal of Roentgenology. 

Roholm had reported that fluoride produced a host of medical symptoms 
in factory workers. Most distinctly, fluoride could visibly disfigure a 
worker's bones, disabling them with a painful thickening and fusing of 
spinal vertebrae, a condition Roholm called crippling skeletal fluorosis. 
Largent now contradicted the Dane, reporting that no disabilities had been 
caused by fluoride in the U.S. workers he had studied. Instead, he argued 
that fluoride "deposition only highlighted a preexisting condition, making 
it more "apparent" to X-rays. "One wonders if Roholm may not have 
overemphasized the part that fluorides may play in causing limitation of 
mobility of the spine," Largent wrote. Perhaps the crippled spinal columns 
of the Danish workers were mostly the result of "hard labor," he 
suggested. 30 

Largents 1951 paper was influential among those for whom it was 
meant to be influential, so that in 1965, for example, the nations leading 
fluoride expert, Harold Hodge, could state that crippling fluorosis has 
never been seen in the United States. 31 But Largents paper also appears to 
have been a grim scientific hoax. At the end of his paper the Kettering 
researcher had ostentatiously posed a question: why did fluoride appear to 
affect American and European workers differently? "Just why disability 
has not been recorded in American workers remains unanswered, Largent 

The answer is simple. The facts were hidden by a Kettering cover-up 
that misled a generation of medical researchers about the consequences of 
industrial fluoride exposure and sentenced many thousands of U.S. 
workers to undiagnosed fluoride injury. Just three years earlier Kettering's 
Robert Kehoe had privately told Alcoa that 120 workers at its Massena 
aluminum smelting plant had "bone fluorosis" and that 33 were "severe" 
cases that showed evidences of disability ranging in estimated degree up to 
loo per-cent. 32 Similarly, while Largent publicly reported no fluoride dis- 
ability, privately three doctors had told him that workers' X-rays showed 
evidence of fluoride-linked medical injury, according to his personal 
correspondence and long-concealed records. 

Largents 1951 paper was based on X-rays of workers at the 
Pennsylvania Salt Company. Fluoride was burrowing inside the 


employees bodies, deforming and crippling their bones, according to a 
radiologist, Dr. Thomas Smyth. Ira Templeton, one worker from the 
company s plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, showed marked increase in the 
density of the pelvis, upper portion of the femur, vertebrae, ribs, clavicle, 
scapula and forearm. Dr. Smyth considered these [effects] to be indicative 
of marked fluorine intox ication," Largent told management. At another 
Pennsylvania Salt plant at Natrona, Pennsylvania, X-ray images of a 
worker, Elmer Lammay, revealed that "bone growths on some of the 
vertebrae were extensive enough to indicate that some of the bones of the 
spine were becoming solidly fused together," Largent reported to 
management. 33 A second Natrona worker, Ross Mills, also revealed 
a "clear-cut increase in the density of the lower ribs and the lower 
thoracic and lumbar spine, typical of fluorine absorption," 
according to radiologist Paul Bovard, who classified Mills a "probable 
case of fluorosis." 34 

Although the Kettering researchers hid the incriminating X-ray pictures 
from the workers, on January 31, 1947, a mix-up occurred and Ira 
Templeton's results were sent directly to the Easton plant. " All of the films 
show osteosclerosis previously described and considered to be as a result of 
fluoride poisoning. . . . Very truly yours, Russell Davey, M.D.," read the 
mailed analysis." Pennsylvania Salt's management was furious at the 
misdirected letter. Its workforce might learn of the danger from fluoride 
exposure, the company worried. "You can appreciate the seriousness of 
this situation to us," wrote a senior official, S. C. Ogburn Jr., to Dr. Robert 
Kehoe, Largent's boss at the Kettering Laboratory. "Doubtless, this letter 
has been widely discussed at our Plant and is evidence of extremely poor 
tact, to say the least, on the part of Drs. Pillmore and Davey," 
Ogburn added. 36 

Kehoe asked the offending radiologist, Dr. Davey, to send future X-rays 
directly to the Kettering Laboratory and thereby "absolve the management 
of the Easton plant of any responsibility." He added, "We wish to avoid any 
situations that would result in undue suspicions or anxiety on the part of 
any of these men." And Kehoe swiftly reassured Pennsylvania Salts 
management that any apprehension or concern by workers about their 
health was the result of a semantic misunderstanding. In Europe the terms 


poisoning and fluorine intoxication might suggest disability and even 
worker compensation. In the United States, however, Edward Largent and 
the radiologist Dr. Paul Bovard were using these terms differently, infusing 
medical language with new meaning, Kehoe insisted. Poisoning was 
merely an unfortunate choice of verbal expression," he added. 37 

Dr. Kehoe and Edward Largent now delivered their sponsors some good 
news. Dr. Bovard had reversed the earlier diagnoses of fluoride poisoning 
by Drs. Smyth and Davey. He now claimed that, "with the exception of 
spinous ligament changes seen in films of Ira Templeton, the bone 
changes were so commonly seen in laborers as to have no necessary or 
likely relation to fluorine deposition. Pennsylvania Salt should therefore 
"differentiate between the terms, fluorine intoxication, which carries with 
it the implication of illness and disability, or impending disability, and 
"fluorine deposition, which signifies demonstrable change but without 
implying, necessarily, that illness or disease has occurred or is 
imminent, suggested Largent. 38 

The Kettering researchers published verdict of no disability was 
manifestly suspicious. All three radiologists had diagnosed some degree of 
fluoride-induced spinal thickening, ligament changes, or fluorosis in the 
Pennsylvania Salt workers. A careful reader of Largent's published paper 
might also note an important distinction between the way Largent had 
arrived at his medical conclusions and how Kaj Roholm had investigated 
the same problem. The Dane had listened closely to the health complaints 
of the Copenhagen employees. He had concluded that fluoride poisoning 
was insidious and hydra-headed and that several groups of 
symptoms — including stomach, bone, lung, skin, and nervous 
problems — often presented themselves at different times in different 
people, making fluoride injury both serious and sometimes difficult to 
diagnose. 39 Largent's 1951 published finding of "no disability" in the 
Pennsylvania Salt workers, however, was made without ever talking to the 
employees themselves. Nor had the Kettering team performed any medical 
examinations beyond studying bone X-rays in a distant office. Detailed 
clinical examination of the workmen in these plants could not be carried 
out and therefore no other data are available for consideration, Largent 


Sins of the Father 

EDWARD LA rgent's WILLINGNESS tO perform human experiments was 
remarkable. In the haste of World War II, he had helped the Manhattan 
Project fix fluoride inhalation safety standards at 6 parts per million for 
U.S. war workers who breathed in fluoride in factories." Following the war 
Largent even turned to his own family to obtain additional scientific data. 42 

He couldnt get experimental subjects, explained his son Edward 
Largent Jr., who today is a classical composer and professor emeritus at 
the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University in Ohio. A lot 
of people were just antifluoride for whatever reasons, he added. 

His son, then a high school student, was selected by his father because 
he "was available and he was willing," his father told the medical writer 
Joel Griffiths. "Willing human subjects are not that easy to find," he 
explained. Largent told his son that he needed more data for whatever 
research he was doing, Largent, Jr. remembered. "It was really sort of a 
cursory knowledge. I wouldn't have understood a lot of what he was talking 
about because I was only a sophomore in high school. 

The Manhattan Project's Rochester division had already reported 
earlier experiments with hydrogen fluoride gas on dogs. At 
concentrations of approximately 8.8 parts per million of hydrogen fluoride, 
the lungs of one out of five dogs hemorrhaged. 43 Largent, Sr., had read the 
study but appeared skeptical about the results. " When I read it I wasn't 
impressed with what it meant in terms of potential human exposure, he 
told Griffiths. There was no review commit-tee for the Kettering inhalation 
experiment and no formal consent forms. "I was the review committee," he 
said. He did not anticipate health problems in the experimental subjects. 
"As far as we were concerned, there were no such risks," he added. 

In order to perform these new experiments, Largent had to have a gas 
chamber built. The process was a challenge. HF gas is corrosive, and the 
acid attacked the metal cylinders and valves. " It was found to be very 
difficult to maintain a specific concentration of HF in air inside the 
inhalation chamber, he reported. 

Once the gas chamber was built, Largent reserved the greatest amount 
of fluoride for one of the Kettering laboratory s African 


American laboratory assistants, forty-six-year-old male Gentry Blackstone. 
For fifty days in the early spring of 1953 Blackstone sat in the Kettering gas 
chamber six hours a day, breathing an average dose of 4.2 parts per million 
of hydrogen fluoride acid. But Largent did not experiment on Gentry 
Blackstone alone. Largent also exposed his own wife, Kathleen, to a lower 
dose of 2.7 parts per million. And although Gentry Blackstone received the 
largest amount of fluoride over the longest period of time, the single 
highest exposure values were given to Largent's son. On June 22, 1953, 
Edward Largent Jr., aged seventeen, entered a Kettering gas chamber for 
the first time. Cold cosmetic cream was applied to his face. The experiment 
would continue for twenty-eight days, six hours at a time, with weekends 

"I had to sit in this cage," the son remembered. A small fan was placed 
in front of the boy to improve the gas circulation. Outside, his father 
operated the controls and watched. The walls of the chamber were made 
from transparent plastic sheeting. The gas whispered in. At first, it caught 
the teenagers lungs and burned his nostrils, he said. His skin reddened and 
flaked. He read fiction to relieve the tedium, eyes stinging and smarting. 
The average dose for the six weeks that Edward Largent Jr. sat in the 
chamber was 6.7 parts per million — almost two and a half times what his 
mother received. For one remarkable week in early July 1953, however, 
with a break for Independence Day, the scientist gassed his son with doses 
of hydrogen fluoride that averaged 9.1 parts per million and climbed as 
high as 11.9, almost four times the maximum allowable concentration then 
set by federal authorities and twice what the father had tolerated himself. 
The son's urine levels spiked at 40 parts of fluoride per million. The highest 
doses given to his son were accidental, the father said in retrospect; "It was 
our inability to keep it from going higher than we wanted it to." 

Largent's experiments rang alarm bells for industry. At a 1953 
Symposium on Fluorides at the Kettering Laboratory, he described his 
inhalation studies and spelled out the potential dangers they had revealed.." 
The gathered officials — including the head of the Fluorine Lawyers 
Committee, Alcoas Frank Seamans — knew that American workers were 
regularly exposed to 3 parts per million of fluoride in their factories and 
workplaces. They also knew that when fluoride urine levels rose above 8 
milligrams per liter, there was real danger 


that fluoride was building up in the skeleton and might soon become visible 
to X-rays. L argent delivered the bad news. Fluoride levels in his 
experimental subjects had spiked sharply immediately after their gas 
chamber exposures, even at lower acceptable exposure levels. Urinary 
concentrations averaged about io mg. per liter, he told the industry men, 
"although the atmospheric concentrations of HF were near to 3 ppm, which 
is generally accepted as satisfactory for prolonged occupational exposure. 
95 In public Largent continued to maintain that fluoride was safe in low 
doses. 96 Privately he told the industry representatives at the 1953 
Symposium, One wonders (whether) . . . prolonged exposure to HF at such 
a level may not give rise to medico-legal controversies."" 

Despite his private warnings to industry, Largent s experiments on his 
family and on the Blackstones are now considered a scientific foundation 
for today's official safety standard for the tens of thousands of workers who 
each day breathe the gas in their factories. The other source for safety 
assurances? Experiments done in 
1909 on rats. 98 

Even though the family experiments seem shocking, Edward Largent Jr. 
refuses to judge his father for placing him in a hydrogen fluoride gas 
chamber. Although the music professor has experienced knee problems in 
recent years, he blames a youthful passion for soccer; he doubts that it had 
anything to do with his summer spent breathing fluoride in the basement of 
the Kettering Laboratory, where he remembers only moderate discomfort. 
Mostly, he told me, "It stank and it was very boring. Be careful about 
criticizing," he warned, referring to the 19505 experiments. "Those were 
different times. The criteria and the sensitivities to such things were very 
different." He added, "It is like trying to judge a Beethoven symphony 
today. You have to look at the circumstances, the instruments he was 
writing for, the audience situations." 

After the experiments Edward Largent Jr., abruptly changed his career 
plans. He had passed his entrance exams for medical school at Ohio State, 
but suddenly plumped for music. Science no longer seemed so appealing. 
"I just decided I didn't want to do that, he said. 

His father would be haunted in later life by his own service as a human 
laboratory animal. Painful osteofluorosis led to a knee 


replacement and a reliance on medication for relief, the former Kettering 
researcher told medical writer Joel Griffiths in a taped interview in the 
mid-1990s. Both knees were hurting, Largent explained, because of the 
deposition of fluoride. Ironically, he seemed to have wound up suffering 
from the very type of skeletal disability his industry-funded scientific 
studies said did not exist. (In a second interview, however, Largent 
reversed himself and denied to Griffiths that he had ever suffered 
osteofluorosis.) 49 

Edward Largent Sr. died in December 1998, five days after an operation 
for a broken hip, suffered after a nighttime fall: gripped by Alzheimer's 
dementia, Largent had forgotten to use his walker to get to the bathroom. 
At the end of his life, his son recalled, Edward Largent "was angry and 
frustrated and very frightened because he knew there was something that 
wasn't right and that he couldn't fig ure out how to deal with it. The son 
wondered whether his father's bone pain in later life was because of his 
fluoride experiments. Edward Largent Jr.'s mother also suffered from ill 
health in her final years. Kathleen Largent had a leaking heart valve and a 
nerve disorder known as myasthenia gravis. (Arthritis, increased risk of hip 
fracture, Alzheimer's, and other central-nervous-system disorders have all 
been linked by scientists to fluoride exposure.) 50 

In recent years Edward Largent Jr. has spent hours reading about the 
Manhattan Project, wondering if his father was involved. An elder brother 
said their father had worked at Oak Ridge. And as a boy, Edward Largent 
Jr. remembers his father arriving from Tennessee at their Cincinnati home 
on a Friday night during the 1940s, driving a black car with government 
plates. "The car would go in the garage and I would say "Let's go for a 
ride,' and Dad would say No, no we can't use that car.' And then he would 
leave Sunday after-noon in the government car." 

Donora: A Rich Man's Hocus Pocus 

I have felt the fog in my throat 

The misty hand of Death caress my face; 

I have wrestled with a frightful foe 

Who strangled me with wisps of gray fog-lace. 

Now in the eyes since I have died. The bleak, 

bare hills rise in stupid might With scars of its 

slavery imbedded deep; 

And the people still live — still live — in the poisonous night. 

Attributed to area resident John P. Clark, whose mother-in-law, Mrs. 
Jeanne Kirkwood, aged seventy, died at Clark's home at 2 AM on Saturday, 
October 30, 1948. 

THE MOST VISIBLE U.S. air pollution disaster after the war was in 
Donora, Pennsylvania, where twenty people were killed and many 
hundreds were injured following a smog that blanketed the mill town over 
the Halloween weekend of October 1948. Philip Sadtler, the chemical 
consultant and antipollution crusader, had gone to Donora immediately 
afterward and written a report blaming fluoride. However, his conclusions 
were soon drowned out by the subsequent official Public Health Service 
investigation that blamed a temperature inversion and "a mixture" of 
industrial pollutants.' Robert Kehoe and Edward Largent also investigated 
the disaster and prepared medical evidence against the Donora survivors 


sued the U.S. Steel Company for damages. Kehoes files shine a stark 
new light upon these historic events. 

Halloween 1948: Donora 

WHEN PHILIP S A D T L E R stepped from the train platform onto 
Donora's cobbled streets that November morning in 1948, he carefully 
made his way up McKean Avenue and past the many churches and 
Slavic working clubs of the industrial Pennsylvania town. 

Grief and fear still clung to the air. It was only five days after what 
had been the worst recorded air pollution disaster in U.S. history.' 
Bodies stiffened in Rudolph Schwerha's funeral home. Scores of citi 
zens had been hospitalized and many hundreds lay seriously 

Sadtler nodded a greeting at a knot of Donoras grim-faced citizens. 
He studied them closely, already gathering clues. Over that Halloween 
weekend twenty people had been killed in Donora and the nearby town 
of Webster. Two more would die that same week, and many more 
would succumb to their injuries in the weeks and months ahead.' An 
estimated 6,000 men, women, and children had been sickened, out of 
a population of 13,500. They were choked and poisoned in their homes 
and beds by a toxic gas from the metal-smelting plants along the banks 
of Monongahela River, which cut between the two towns. The deadly 
effluent was trapped in the river valley by a seasonal temperature 
inversion. A layer of warm atmosphere had pressed down on the cold 
dense air below and a blanket of industrial filth had smothered Donora 
and Webster for almost five days. 

The townspeople were unaware at first that a disaster was unfold ing. 
Their Halloween parade on the Friday night down McKean Avenue 
was a ghoulish farce. They were just like shadows marching by, the 
mayor s wife said. It was kind of uncanny, especially since most of the 
people in the crowd had handkerchiefs tied over their nose and mouth 
to keep out the smoke. But, even so, everybody was coughing. The 
minute it was over, everybody scattered. They just vanished. In two 
minutes there wasnt a soul left on the street. It was as quiet as 

As midnight struck, death began to stalk the brightly painted 
wood-framed homes that climbed the hills surrounding Donora. 

Perhaps the first to die was Ivan Ceh, a seventy-year-old retired steel 
-worker. When he was twenty-two, Ceh had set sail from Yugoslavia to 
work in the Donora mills. At around 8:3o p M that Friday evening, as the 
toxic fumes crept though the town, the unmarried Ceh began hacking with 
a dry cough, struggling to breathe. His torment worsened through the night. 
With his lungs fighting for oxygen, the steel-worker's heart suddenly failed 
at around l:3o A M. "It was observed that a white frothy fluid was coming 
out of the patient's mouth during the last moments of life," noted one 
medical report.' 

Ceh's violent demise would be typical that night. A Scottish widow 
who had lived in Donora for twenty-four years since arriving in the United 
States had also fallen ill on Friday. The town's smogs had frequently left 
her breathless but this was much, much worse. She coughed through a 
sleepless night, her lungs scrambling for air. Two hypodermic injections 
brought no relief and, at 2:oo A M on Saturday, she also died of heart 

The undertaker Rudolph Schwerha may have been the first to real ize 
that a tragedy was unfolding. A telephone call announced the arrival of a 
new death, just as his assistant returned to the morgue with Ivan Ceh's body. 
"Now I was surprised," Schwerha told The New Yorker magazine. "Two 
different cases so soon together in this size town doesn't happen every 

Donora's longest night would be etched in the memory of its residents. 
Almost fifty years later Gladys Shempp gestured to the curtains in her 
Donora home and described that long-ago Friday of October 29, 1948, as 
she struggled through air "as yellow as the color of those drapes. You 
couldn't see. Your eyes were burning, and the tears were running down 
your face." 

The following morning, Saturday, October 30, her husband, Bill 
Shempp, was called out to the Donora fire station to give oxygen to 
residents. The smog had thickened. The volunteer firefighter crept through 
empty streets he no longer recognized. "It was like a claustrophobia," he 
said. "You didn't know where you were. It would take us at least two or 
three hours to get to one home." 

A vision of hell greeted the firemen. Frightened citizens clamored for 
oxygen. Shempp released the elixir into a homemade oxygen tent made out 
of a sheet or blanket. It helped, he said, but when the firemen tried to leave, 
panic ensued. "They were in great fear of not 

being able to breathe, Bill Shempp remembered. They were getting some 
relief temporarily, and then to shut it off on them, we had quite a problem.'" 

Fire chief John Volk discovered men and women whose lungs clawed 
for air but whose grip on life was slipping. I found people laying in bed 
and laying on the floor, he remembered. Some of them didn't give a damn 
whether they died or not. I found some down in the basement with the 
furnace draft open and their head stuck inside, trying to get air. ' 

A doctor's receptionist, Helen Stack, continued to answer a telephone 
that had rung endlessly throughout Friday night with cries for help. 
Everyone who called up said the same thing, Stack told The New Yorker. 
Pain in the abdomen. Splitting headache. Nausea and vomiting. Choking 
and couldnt get their breath. Coughing up blood. 

On Saturday morning Stack called her good friend Dorothy Hollowitti to 
check on Dorothys father, whod also fallen sick from the smog. She 
wanted to reassure her friend that the doctor was on his way. Dorothy was 
crying when she answered the phone, said Stack. "I'll never forget what 
she said. She said, "Oh, Helen — my dad just died! He's dead!'" 

Dorothys father, the retired steelworker Ignatz Hollowitti, was the sixth 
victim of the smog." Incredibly, even by that Saturday after -noon many 
Donora residents still had no idea that a disaster was upon them. Allen 
Kline was a twenty-two-year-old sportswriter for the Daily Republic, 
covering the Donora high school football games. Donora had a passion for 
sports. Hometown hero Stan Musial had just completed another fabulous 
season with the St. Louis Cardinals, batting a league high .376 average. But 
that Saturday at the football game, it was impossible to see the players from 
the press box and there was a great deal of "coughing and hacking" from 
spectators, Kline remembered. "It was almost unbelievable," he added. "It 
seemed to be nighttime in the middle of the day.'" 

During the football game an announcement was made: the children of 
Bernardo Di Sanza should return home. The announcer did not mention the 
reason, but the sixty-seven-year-old Di Sanza was dead. The Donora death 
fog had now claimed eleven victims. 13 

On the sideline reporter Allen Kline heard firemen telling stories 


about how many people they had administered oxygen to, and how people 
were dropping over here and there. A temporary morgue had been set up in 
the Community Center. Kline quickly called the Pittsburgh offices of the 
Associated Press and UPI wire services. He discovered that, ironically, 
while Donorans were just learning of the disaster, the Pittsburgh wire 
services were already reporting the deaths to the nation, sealing Donoras 
place in history. 

Donora residents now heard the news over the radio. Walter Winchell 
broadcast a report on his nationwide show on Saturday evening. Panic 
quickly gripped the town, phone lines jammed with incoming calls from 
worried relatives and friends, and hundreds of residents attempted to flee 
the valley for higher ground. Poor visibility and choked roads, however, 
meant that for many evacuation was nearly impossible, reported the New 
York Times. 14 

Reports of the unfolding horror quickly reached U.S. Steels corporate 
headquarters in Delaware. Its subsidiary company, American Steel and 
Wire, ran Donora's zinc and steel works. On Sunday morning at 3:0o A M, 
with the death toll at nineteen, U.S. Steel gen eral counsel Roger Blough 
made a frantic phone call. He reached the zinc works superintendent M. M. 
Neale in Donora and ordered him to shut the smelter down. 15 The call may 
have prevented a much greater disaster. A local doctor, William Rongaus, 
later testified that if the smog had lasted just one more evening, the 
casualty list would have been 1,000 instead of 20. 

U.S. Steel had reason to be concerned. Donora was a company town, 
entirely dominated by the mighty steel and zinc plants that stretched for 
three fuming and clamorous miles along the town's riverfront. By 1948 five 
thousand of Donora's men sweated in those mills, turning out record profits 
that year for the company.' Even the town's name betrayed its corporate 
roots. "Donora" was an amalgam of the first name of Nora Mellon, the wife 
of Pittsburgh industrialist Andrew Mellon, and the surname of a former 
company president William Donner. 18 U.S. Steel had long ago purchased 
the Donora Works from Mellon, but the town's corporate character 
remained; the steel company's accounting department even drafted 
Donora's town budget. 19 

Donora was famous for its culture. Many workers were immigrants from 
Eastern Europe, Slovenia, northern Spain, and Italy. 


They had seen newspaper advertisements placed by steel barons Andrew 
Carnegie and Andrew Mellon in the European papers and had arrived in 
Donora in the early part of the twentieth century, an excited chorus of 
foreign tongues bubbling up the valley, mingling with earlier Scottish and 
Irish immigrants and African Americans from the southern states. The zinc 
workers — whose toil at the white-hot furnace face was some of the dirtiest 
in Donora — were mostly from northern Spain. 

Donora was a great Spanish town, remembered Bill Shempp. They 
used to have a festival out at Palmer Park every year and people came from 
as far away as California and it would last for a week or so, and they would 
practically camp out." 

Today a stroll through a wooded Donora cemetery whispers a memory 
of the new industrial world those immigrants found. Birdsong spills upon 
the gravestones, some marked with distinctive twin-horizontal Coptic 
crosses, etched with Slavic, Spanish, and Italian names. Coal barges still 
push up the Monongahela River. A train whistles in the valley below. On 
one gravestone an engraved photograph of a young man in an 
uncomfortable-looking suit stares out from behind a glass panel like an 
icon, this grave a final resting place for a long-ago dream of that Promised 
Land in western Pennsylvania. 

In Philadelphia that disaster weekend Philip Sadtler's father, Samuel 
Sadtler, flipped through the pages of his Sunday newspaper. It was full of 
speculation that Harry Truman would lose the coming November election 
to Republican presidential challenger Thomas Dewey. But as Sadtler read, 
his eyes lit on a short description of the terrible events in Donora. Time, 
Newsweek, and the New York Times all carried similar accounts of the 
tragedy. Scores of Donora's sick and injured were being evacuated by air to 
Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. 

As he read about the Donora events, Samuel Sadtler became sus picious. 
He recalled a similar disaster in Belgium some eighteen years earlier, when 
fumes from metal-smelting and fertilizer factories had been trapped by a 
temperature inversion and had killed sixty-three people in the Meuse 
Valley. Thousands more had been left ill with respiratory and heart 
problems. Kaj Roholm and other scientists had reported that fluoride 
emissions from industrial plants 


in the Meuse Valley had caused the disaster.' There had been three zinc 
plants in the valley. Roholms book sat in Sadtlers library. He wanted his 
son to go to Donora and investigate the situation. 

Father said, That s fluorine," remembered Philip Sadtler. I said, Well, 
so what Dad? I cant afford to go out there. 

But five days later Philip Sadtler stepped off the Donora train. The 
six-foot-tall Sadtler already had his own reputation as a talented scientist 
and air-pollution investigator. He had examined several big fluoride 
pollution cases just after the war in Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and 
Pennsylvania, including the so-called Peach Crop cases, linked to the 
Manhattan Project (see chapter 5). Sadtler had also measured fluoride 
content in vegetation along the industrialized Delaware Valley and found 
damage endemic and widespread. 22 " There were at least ten thousand 
square miles of damage from fluorine. Most people did not know that was 
going on, he said. 

Sadtler's train ticket to Donora was paid for by a group of crusading 
Florida farmers. They were suing phosphate fertilizer plants near the town 
of Bradenton, on Florida s southwest coast, claiming that fluoride air 
pollution was destroying their crops and their health. Thirty-eight-year-old 
Sadtler was their courtroom scientific expert. The Florida farmers hoped 
that a verdict of fluoride poisoning in Donora might help their own court 
case and worried that the Donora deaths would be blamed instead on sulfur 
dioxide, a much less toxic pollutant that at the time was being generated in 
large volumes by the coal used to heat homes. 

"The Bradenton farmers called and said, TJon't let them call it sulfur 
dioxide,'" Sadtler told me. They feared that if Pennsylvania's industrialists 
could point the finger at sulfur dioxide produced by Donora's coal-burning 
citizens, instead of industry's fluoride emissions, then there would be no 
one to blame for the disaster. " All the culprits in the country at that time 
wanted to call it sulfur dioxide," Sadtler recalled. By blaming air pollution 
on sulfur dioxide, the industrial polluters were safe; fluoride, on the other 
hand, was much more likely to be blamed on metal smelters and manu- 
facturing plants, and could lead to convictions in court.' 3 (Today the 
fluoride researcher and activist Mike Connett describes sulfur dioxide as 
the Lee Harvey Oswald of air pollution. Like Oswald, sulfur dioxide is a 
convenient scapegoat and, like Oswald, it is highly 

P ONORA 121 

unlikely that sulfur dioxide could accomplish all that it is blamed for.) 
Sadtler thought that the farmers were probably right. He had earlier 
investigated some big sulfur dioxide pollution incidents, and he felt 
that the damage in Donora sounded a lot worse than sulfur dioxide 
ever caused, he said. 

Now, treading Donora s cobbled streets, Sadtler continued gath- 
ering clues. When the Donora townspeople talked, he watched their 
mouths. Many had teeth that were badly mottled, he said. Sadtler 
knew that the mottling — the white blotches and chalky marks that 
appeared on teeth — was known as dental fluorosis. He knew that such 
dental fluorosis was an indication that a community had been exposed 
to fluoride over a long period of time and was a cardinal sign of 
fluoride poisoning. Scientists call such long-term and moderate 
exposure chronic. Larger acute exposures, on the other hand, such as 
burns or serious lung damage, are the sort of fluoride poisoning that 
might occur during an industrial accident. Sadtler even joked about 
the dismal dental situation he found in Donora, where many workers 
were entirely toothless. They did not have any tooth problem with the 
employees in the smelter, Sadtler said, because when they went to 
work they put their teeth in the locker. No tooth problem. But people 
outside [the smelter] did have the mottling. 

As Sadtler approached the Donora town hall, more people passed. 
He heard several ugly hacking coughs. Respiratory disease such as 
pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, and dyspnea (shortness of breath) is 
another obvious sign of chronic fluoride poisoning." He soon learned 
that the mill town and the surrounding county had a notorious 
reputation among local people and doctors, even within smoky, 
industrial Pennsylvania, for lung problems and respiratory disease." 

There were lots of respiratory problems in the area, said the 
Donora resident Gladys Shempp. Everybody was always sneezing 
and carrying on. But they took it for granted, that was just part of life. 

Sadtler soon had a third clue to the health of Donora citizens. He 
learned that arthritis was unusually common in the town. The scientist 
knew that fluoride was stored in bones as well as teeth; the Danish 
scientist Roholm had linked fluoride to arthritis-like symptoms. Steel 
mills added a fluoride mineral called fluorspar 


to help flux and draw the steel from the molten ore. Fluoride was among 
the worst pollutants of the U.S. steel industry and the subject of millions of 
dollars in legal claims against steel mills around the country." The Donora 
zinc plants also gave off copious fluoride fumes. Working in the steel and 
zinc mills, or simply living in Donora where the poison was breathed each 
day, had produced very obvious physical effects, both in the teeth and in 
the bones, of the local people he met, Sadtler said.' 

Philip Sadtler was not the only new scientist in Donora that day. News 
of the disaster had electrified the captains of U.S. industry. They quickly 
dispatched their top lieutenants to western Pennsylvania. That Sunday 
night, while Donora s firefighters gave oxygen to suffocating residents, 
twenty-eight miles to the north telephones started to ring in 
Pittsburgh — home to the U.S. Steel Corporation and the giant Aluminum 
Company of America. Industrialists knew that the Donora disaster might 
get much worse. In the wee hours on Sunday morning, U.S. Steel 
executives had placed an emergency call to the Mellon Institute, whose 
director, Ray Weidlein, had answered the telephone that weekend. There 
was already a growing national agitation against pollution, Weidlein knew. 
The steel industry had reaped record profits in 1947 and 1948. Yet almost 
no effort was being made to staunch the torrent of raw chemical pollution 
spilling into waterways and filling the nations skies. Just three days before 
the Donora disaster Colliers magazine had reported, with stunning 
prescience: It is an American habit to poison our air as flagrantly as we 
have poisoned our water. . . . Given the right weather conditions enough 
poisonous fumes are poured into the air every day to produce a great 
disaster. It happened once in Belgium. Now European nations have air 
pollution control. Should we wait until some appalling catastrophe happens 

An aggressive investigation of pollution from the Donora factories 
might place legal responsibility for the deaths squarely on the smelters, 
costing millions in victim compensation and requiring expensive new 
pollution-control equipment in fluoride-emitting industries — not just in 
Donora, but across the country. "It would have been very hard on chemical 
plants. It would have been hard on the steel industry, it would have been 
hard on the aluminum industry, said Philip Sadtler. 


There was another worry. Both the U.S. Army and the Atomic 
Energy Commission (AEC) had a secret and vital interest in the 
outcome of the Donora disaster, Sadtler knew. Vast amounts of 
fluoride gas were now needed by the AEC for the uranium-enrichment 
factories that were being planned and constructed across the United 
States in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Sadtler had already 
measured high human blood fluoride levels among poisoned peach 
farmers living near the DuPont Chamber Works plant in New Jersey, 
where DuPont made top-secret fluoride compounds for the Manhattan 
Project. If fluoride were fingered for the Donora deaths, it might bring 
new scrutiny of worker health safety in those AEC bomb factories, 
resulting in damage suits and expensive requirements for air-pollution 

It would have been very hard on the Atomic Energy Commis- 
sion, said Sadtler. They would have had to pay millions of dollars 
in damages if [citizens] knew the real story. 

Newspaper reporters were already sniffing a possible military 
connection to Donora. Death Smog Eyed Closely in Washington, 
headlined one story in the Pittsburgh Press. Military intelligence 
officials are watching closely Pennsylvania s investigation into 
causes of the mystery fog at Donora, Pa., wrote the newspapers 
Washington correspondent, Tony Smith. The government, he 
wrote, has given much attention to possible air contamination 
around atomic energy projects, and has taken precautions to guard 
against it. Other types of industry, particularly war industries, may 
also cause air pollution. ... A source intimate with the operations of 
central intelligence said that agency will order one of its own if the 
results of Pennsylvania s arent considered satisfactory, Smith 
continued. Should central intelligence investigate the Donora smog, 
it would undoubtedly be an unannounced and 
secret operation. 

The Mellon Institute s Ray Weidlein, who had been a consultant 
to the U.S. military on chemical war gases during World War I, took 
swift action. On October 31, as an autumn rain fell that Sunday 
morning in Donora and washed the worst of the smog away, suited 
strangers began flocking to the traumatized mill town. One of the 
first to arrive, at 6:00 A M that Sunday, was Wesley C. L. Hemeon 
of the Mellon Institute. For the next month Hemeon would walk 


Donoras streets, acting as the eyes and ears of Ray Weidlein and the many 
friends of the Mellon Institute. 

Hemeons first stop was an emergency meeting that Sunday afternoon 
held by Donoras Board of Health. Although the meeting was closed to the 
general public, the Mellon man managed to slip in. Passions ran high. 
Donora doctor and health-board member William Rongaus rose and told 
mill officials that the smog was just plain murder. Air pollution that night 
had affected many other towns, he said, but the deaths had occurred only in 
Donora and across the river in Webster. Many of the deaths were within 
blocks of the U.S. Steel zinc works. 

Poison gas from the zinc mill had been injuring Donoras residents 
silently and insidiously since the mill opened in 1915, Rongaus told the 
board members. It was not only asthmatics who had been made sick during 
the disaster; there were numerous reports of normally healthy people 
experiencing central-nervous-system effects, such as shaking, chronic 
fatigue, dizziness, and acting crazy. Many of those symptoms would last 
for months. At least one Donora woman suffered a miscarriage that 
evening as well. 29 I treated many patients who were young and strong and 
never had any symptoms of asthma," Dr. Rongaus stated. All complained 
of severe pains in the lower chest. It seemed to me like a sort of partial 
paralysis of the 

As he sat through the meeting, Wesley Hemeon of the Mellon Institute 
grew increasingly nervous. The United Steelworkers safety director, Frank 
Burke, blamed the zinc mill for fluoride and sulfur-gas pollution. Then it 
got worse. The steel workers representative pointed an accusing finger at 
the medical experts from the Mellon Institute. Workers trusted neither the 
Mellon Institute nor health officials from the Commonwealth of 
Pennsylvania to investigate the disaster, Burke announced. State health 
authorities had done nothing to protect Donora citizens, despite thirty years 
of lawsuits and complaints. This is worse than a catastrophe, Burke told 
the Donora Council. "Twenty of your citizens are dead. Why weren't 
washers used in the mill to strain poisons out of the air? We want the facts 
and we are going to get them. 

The president of Donoras Board of Health, Charles Stacy, agreed with 
Burke — any state investigation of the smog would be a whitewash. Stacy 
called for an immediate federal investigation 


by the U.S. Public Health Service. Like many Americans, Donora 
residents had emerged from the Depression and World War II with 
renewed faith in the power of the federal government and its ability to 
improve living conditions. Initially, however, Washington pub- 
lic-health officials had seemed reluctant to get involved in Donora. 
Twice during the disaster weekend federal authorities had dismissed 
frantic calls from Pennsylvania asking for government intervention. 
On Saturday evening, for example, the mayor of Donora, the badly 
shaken August Chambon, had declared a state of emergency and 
called Washington for help. His own mother had been stricken. After 
returning from shopping, she was discovered lying on the floor, with 
her coat on, and a bag of cookies spilled all over beside her, gasping 
for breath and in terrible pain, newspapers reported. A quick federal 
response might have enabled authorities to measure the exact chemical 
content of the air pollution or to draw timely blood samples. On 
Sunday, however, a second plea to Washington from the state 
authorities was rebuffed. 

But subdued Mellon officials soon saw a silver lining in the pro- 
posed federal inquiry. They faced a public-relations disaster. Anger in 
Donora and Webster glowed hot as molten steel. Daily press accounts 
of smog victims funerals fanned public emotion. Each shovel of earth 
that fell on the lowered coffins was a drumbeat of accusation against 
U.S. Steel. The first lawsuits against its subsidiary, American Steel 
and Wire, were already being composed. 

The stakes had suddenly become very high, industry saw. Suc- 
cessful lawsuits could prove crippling to many U.S. corporations, 
warned Alcoa s medical director, Dudley Irwin. He compared the 
disaster's potential aftermath to the effects of the Gauley Bridge 
sili-cosis deaths in West Virginia during the early 19305. "The 
repercus sions of the Gauley Tunnel [sic] episode on silicosis probably 
will be dwarfed by the effects of Donora on air pollution, Irwin told 
the powerful trade group known as the Manufacturing Chemists 
Association, whose Air Pollution Abatement Committee gathered at 
the Chemists Club in New York City on January 2, 1950, in the 
aftermath of the Donora disaster. "The Donora incident has not only 
made the public air pollution-conscious and unduly 
apprehensive, but also it has advanced opinion with regard to the 
imposition of restrictive measures by many years, said Irwin. The 
outcome of 


the legal action arising from the Donora experience may set a pattern that 
could be followed in other areas. 31 

Although the cards now seemed stacked against it, industry had an ace in 
the hole: a friend in Washington. Only 170 miles from the grieving mill 
town, across the Allegheny Mountains in Washington, DC, the Truman 
Administration was basking in the sunny afterglow of the November 
election triumph. Plum jobs were going to those who had engineered the 
upset victory over the Republican Thomas Dewey. One of President 
Truman s most trusted deputies and a key figure in the election victory was 
fellow midwesterner Oscar R. Ewing. As acting chair of the Democratic 
National Committee, the Harvard-trained lawyer had raised millions of 
dollars for the election campaign and had helped to craft the presidents 
folksy media image of just plain Harry. 32 After the 1948 election Oscar 
Ewing was reinstalled as head of the giant Federal Security Agency (FSA), 
in charge of the U.S. Public Health Service. 

Ewing had a very private past. For two decades he had been a top Wall 
Street lawyer for Alcoa. He strolled to work at his offices on lower 
Broadway in Manhattan swinging a leather briefcase embossed with the 
gold letters One Wall Street. Inside were legal papers from the 
powerhouse law firm of Hughes, Hubbard, and Ewing. The senior firm 
member Charles Evans Hughes had been an Alcoa attorney since 1910. 
Hughes would subsequently be a Republican presidential candidate and a 
U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, while Oscar Ewing became one of the 
most powerful attorneys in America, earning a reported Depression-era 
salary of $100,000. 33 

During the war Ewing had moved to Washington as Alcoa s top legal 
liaison with the federal government. 34 A key wartime concern of the 
aluminum manufacturers was, of course, lawsuits from workers and 
communities for fluoride air-pollution damage to health and property. One 
of Ewing s legal friends was lawyer Frank Ingersoll, from the same 
Pittsburgh firm as Frank Seamans, head of the Fluorine Lawyers 
Committee (see chapter 8). 

The old friends kept in touch with Ewing, even after he became a 

Washington public servant. A Dear Jack letter from Frank Ingersoll in 

June 1947, for example, sought Ewing s help in getting a friend appointed 

to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 35 Dear Frank, Ewing responded, 

I would be only too happy to help any- 


one in whom you, [Alcoa president] Roy Hunt and George Gibbons are 

In the grim days of early November 1948, Ewings Public Health Service 
now echoed industry s response to the disaster. The same week of the 
Donora funerals, the U.S. Steel Corporation had taken out a newspaper 
advertisement denying responsibility for the deaths. We are certain that 
the principal offender in the tragedy was the unprecedentedly heavy fog 
which blanketed the Borough for five days, the company wrote. That same 
week federal PHS official John Bloomfield also pinned responsibility on 
the weather, telling newspapers the smog had been an "atmospheric 
freak." 37 

The Mellon Institute was backing away from direct involvement in the 
disaster investigation because it wanted "no legal entangle-ment. 38 Wesley 
Hemeon told industry leaders in Donora on Novem ber 8 that he now 
favored an investigation by the Public Health Service. A week later, at the 
annual meeting of the Mellon Institute s Industrial Hygiene Foundation, the 
PHS announced that it, too, had reversed course. James Townsend of the 
PHS announced that Donora would be the first investigation of an 
air-pollution disaster by the agency and its biggest project since their 
aftermath studies of the Hiroshima atomic bombing. 39 

The PHS chose Helmuth Schrenk to head its investigation. Schrenk was 
a senior scientist from the Pittsburgh office of the federal Bureau of Mines, 
located only blocks from Ray Weidleins Mellon Institute. And although it 
was not made public then, nor would the Donora citizens learn of his dual 
identify for more than half a century, Helmuth Schrenk was a poison-gas 
expert who had worked as a secret consultant during the war for the 
Manhattan Project atomic bomb program. His special expertise was 
fluoride gas. 40 

On November 30 Helmuth Schrenk and his PHS team moved into the 
municipal Borough Building in downtown Donora." It was not a moment 
too soon. A day earlier Philip Sadtler had seized newspaper headlines. He 
had completed his investigation, reporting that fluorine gas from 
industrial plants had killed and injured the Donora residents. Other toxic 
gases — including sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide — had been in the air 
that night and contributed to health problems, he stated, but none of them 
had been present in quantities to kill. 42 


Numerous mills in the area used large quantities of fluoride-containing 
raw materials, Sadtler wrote. Blood levels of the dead and injured showed 
12 to 25 times the normal quantity of fluorine," he reported. Another 
symptom of acute fluoride poisoning that night, Sadtler noted, included 
the widely reported appearance of dyspnea, a shortness of breathing similar 
to asthma. Fluoride had been polluting Donora for years, Sadtler concluded. 
He reported mottled teeth in Donora residents, the destruction of farm 
crops, high fluoride content in vegetation, crippled farm animals, and the 
etching of windows by fluoride gas 43 

Sadtler publicly sided with those Donora residents who blamed the zinc 
works for their long-standing health problems and the envi ronmental 
damage. The Danish scientist Kaj Roholm had identified zinc ore as 
being high in fluoride content. Ironically, the same zinc ore used in the 
Meuse Valley in Belgium, where 63 people had been killed in that 
industrial disaster in 1930, may also have poisoned Donora s citizens. 
Sadtler spoke with an official from the New York chemical testing firm of 
Ledoux & Company, which analyzed metal ores imported into the United 
States. That official told him that the Donora mill had been "smelting 
high-fluorine content zinc ore from the Meuse Valley, Sadtler reported. M 
After the Donora mill began using the Belgian ores, U.S. Steel had asked 
Ledoux & Company to stop analyzing the ore for fluorides, noted Sadtler. 
That was told to me by one of the heads of the company," he added. 

But Sadtler still had some lingering questions about the sequence of 
events in Donora that weekend. Temperature inversions and bad fogs were 
common during the fall in Donora and along the Monongahela Valley. 
Why had so many people been killed and injured that weekend? Why had 
the deaths occurred in such a short period of time? At one point nine people 
died in six hours. Most deaths happened on Friday night and before noon 
on Saturday. Yet the weather was just as bad on Saturday evening, and the 
zinc mill did not cease operations until Sunday morning." 

"It was really very queer," said Donora's Red Cross director, Cora 
Vernon, who was prepared for more deaths on Saturday evening. The fog 
was as black and as nasty as ever that night, or worse, but all of a sudden 
the calls for a doctor just seemed to trickle out and stop. I dont believe we 
had a call after midnight, she told The New Yorker. 


Sadtler suspected that something had suddenly produced an 
extraordinary amount of fluoride that Friday night. He wondered 
whether top-secret military work had been going on in the Donora 
mills. It might have been that they were smelting something for the 
Atomic Energy Commission, he speculated. Perhaps, he said, the 
Donora mills were being used that night to roast not zinc ore, but 
uranium tetrafluoride, to "drive off the fluorine, so that they could get 
the uranium." 

Investigative reports fifty years later by Pete Eisler in USA Today 
and subsequent disclosures by the Department of Energy, all since 
Sadtler's death, have revealed that private industrial plants were 
routinely used for secret nuclear work in the 1940s and 1950s. 
Although none of these disclosures has mentioned Donora, many have 
revealed that workers were frequently injured by that work and rarely 
informed about health risks. 

Dr. Weidlein Goes to Washington 

SADTLER S VERDICT OF fluoride poisoning in Donora maddened 
industry. An account of his findings was published on December 18, 
1948, in the leading trade magazine, Chemical and Engineering News. 
Retaliation was swift. Sadtler heard immediately from the magazine's 
Washington editor, who told him that he could not accept any more 
reports about Donora. Although Sadtler had been a frequent 
con-tributor — and his grandfather had been a founding member of the 
American Chemical Society, which publishes Chemical and Engi- 
neering News — the editor explained that the director of the Society 
was now none other than the Mellon Institute s Ray Weidlein. He told 
me Dr. Weidlein had been to visit," Sadtler said. "Why would the 
Mellon Institute, supposedly a nonbiased, nonpolitical organization 
do such a thing? Well, U.S. Steel, the owners of the zinc works, had an 
influence with the Mellon Institute, so it only took a telephone call to 
have Dr. Weidlein go to Washington." 

Robert Kehoe also attacked Sadtler. His Kettering Laboratory had 
been hired by U.S. Steel to conduct a private investigation of the 
disaster, and it would gather medical evidence to fight lawsuits by 
victims family members and smog survivors. Dr. Kehoe fired off a 
blistering volley to the editor of Chemical and Engineering News, 
Walter J. Murphy, on December 22 , 1948. In a letter underlined 


Personal and Confidential, Kehoe called Sadtlers conclusion of fluoride 
poisoning, which had appeared in the magazine two weeks earlier, "wholly 
unwarranted, almost certainly untrue, and a disservice not least to the 
families and friends of the unfortunate victims. (Kehoe did not mention in 
his letter, however, that he was working on behalf of U.S. Steel, which was 
being sued by those same unfortunate victims. ) 

The analysis of the blood for fluoride is a very difficult procedure, Kehoe 
wrote, and even under conditions of severe exposure the concentrations of 
fluorine in the blood [are] quite low. My associates and I believe that no 
such results as have been reported here [ by Sadtler] are possible of 
achievement, and therefore we regard the entire story as a deliberate lie or 
as an irresponsible expression of technical ignorance or incompetence. 
Kehoe was careful to keep his attack anonymous. Since I and my 
associates are engaged in investigations at Donora I do not wish to be 
quoted in any way in this connection, lest I be suspected of having drawn 
conclusions before facts are available, he added. 

Murphy passed the smoldering letter to his boss, executive editor James 
M. Crowe, who responded to Kehoe on January 7, 1949 I have heard from 
Sadtler recently, Crowe wrote Kehoe, and he insists that he has made tests 
on the blood of victims of the disaster and on vegetation, etc., in the area 
and that he has chemical evidence of unsafe concentrations of fluoride. He 
claims that he volunteered to check his analytical methods and results with 
the representatives of the public health agencies, but that they were 
uncooperative.... I note from your letter that the analysis of fluorine in 
blood is quite difficult and that you feel Sadtler could not have obtained the 
results indicated. It seems to me that this is the one point, at least, where 
scientific methods could be checked and agreement reached on whether the 
results are or are not accurate. It is not our intention to become embroiled in 
this matter and permit our pages to become a battleground for this case, but 
for our own information we would be interested to know the results of any 
analytical findings of your investigation." 

Kehoe would send no analytical results to the magazine. Secretly his 
Kettering Laboratory had now obtained a similar blood fluoride result to 
Sadtlers. Kehoe s first letter attacking Sadtler had been 


ccd to Dr. Dudley Irwin, Alcoa s medical director. Alcoa was then 
sponsoring Kehoe s fluoride research at Kettering and may have been 
the master puppeteers in the Donora investigation. 

Kehoe s Donora deputy, Dr. William Ashe, had reported earlier 
that summer on the crippling disability fluoride air pollution had 
caused among aluminum workers inside Alcoa s smelting plant in 
Niagara Falls, New York. Ashe thought that poison gas had caused 
the Donora deaths. "My assumption that it was a gas which was 
hydrolyzed in the lung and produced its pathology some little time 
after it was inspired is based on a very superficial check of the clinical 
picture as seen by two doctors and two patients, Ashe told Kehoe. 
( When two PHS officials visited Cincinnati to discuss the disaster 
investigation, Ashe advised Kehoe to keep this speculation private. I 
think that it would be wise to refuse to let them know what our 
guesses are, he said.)" 8 

Following the disaster, Alcoa had quietly obtained a blood sample 
from one of the first Donora victims, Mike Dorance. On December 30, 
1948, in a letter marked "CONFIDENTIAL," Alcoa reported the 
results of that blood analysis to Dr. Ashe. The letter, which was also 
cc'd to Dr. Dudley Irwin, was written by the head of Alcoa's analytical 
division, H. V. Churchill. Alcoa s fears about Donora, and the awful 
parallel with what Philip Sadtler had found, are wholly evident in this 
confidential note, written on company stationery: 

"Dr. Irwin suggested that we analyze the sample of blood for fluo- 
rine content, and we have just completed that analysis. This sample 
was received by us and contains 20.3 p. p.m. fluorine," Churchill wrote. 
I trust that you will find this information of some use to you" 
(emphasis in original)." 

This blood fluoride level is, of course, almost exactly what Sadtler 
had reported finding in Donora victims — the data that Robert Kehoe 
had objected so strenuously to seeing published. Dr. Ashe responded 
to Alcoa on January 3, 1949. He pointed out that no fluoride had been 
found in Mike Dorance s lung tissue, the only organ tested, and that a 
volume of fluid squeezed from the lung had been too small to test. 
Please be assured that we are grateful to you for this data and know 
that it is completely reliable information. The only problem is: Where 
did the fluorine come from? Ashe wrote to Churchill.' 

The fluorine finding clearly had some people worried, noted 


scientist Kathleen M. Thiessen, an expert on risk analysis who reviewed 
many of the Kettering papers on the Donora investigation for this book. 
Mike Dorance s fluoride-saturated blood, however, could not be regarded 
as proof that fluoride was the killer that week -end, Thiessen said. If 
Dorance had inhaled lethal doses of fluoride that night, she would have 
expected to see some measurement of fluoride in his lung tissue, she 
cautioned.' Nevertheless, she described the blood fluoride level 
measured by Alcoa as " excessive" and enough to kill. That s high, she 
said. If that was all you had, you could say it was highly likely that person 
died of fluoride poisoning." 

One more dagger was secretly pointed at Philip Sadtler. When he had 
first arrived in the mill town, Sadtler met with a deputy from 
Pennsylvania's Health Department to offer his services as an investigator.' 
But the official quickly attempted to head Sadtler off, he said. "I went to the 
Borough Hall, it was about 7:30 on a Friday night, met the deputy and he 
said T will see you in my office in Harrisburg [the distant state capital] on 
Monday, recalled Sadtler. That killed everything. I had nothing to go on. I 
was quite upset and there was a schoolteacher who heard that, and after a 
few minutes' conversation he went into the borough council and told 
[them] they should hear me. So I told the borough council what I knew and 
they appointed me an official investigator. So when I came back a week 
later, the union had already appropriated $20,000 [sic] to investigate or pay 
for an investigation, but somebody inserted in pen in the minutes at his 
own expense. Therefore I was not going to get anything from that 
$20,000."' 3 

Unknown to Sadtler, federal authorities had privately warned the 
Borough Council not to work with the independent investigator. PHS 
investigator Duncan A. Holaday reported back to officials in Washington 
that Sadtler has broken into print previously in somewhat the same role, as 
one who could solve complicated problems quickly for a sufficient 
monetary consideration. Local officials had been given a choice, Holaday 
added. He explained to them, The Public Health Service ... could not work 
in cooperation with a private individual who had been hired on a fee basis. 
It was suggested that if they so desired I would submit to them a list of 
competent industrial hygiene consultants, any of whom would give them 
an honest appraisal of the situation. " 


The Public Health Service Investigation 

The big federal investigation now shifted noisily into gear. From 
November 1948 and through the following spring Donora residents were 
bombarded with door-to-door surveys and endless questionnaires from the 
Washington investigators. Public Health Service air sampling vans 
criss-crossed the steel bridge between Webster and Donora. The town hall 
sprouted an air monitor. 

Donora residents were elated. They were confident that Harry Truman s 
Public Health Service would deliver fair deal answers about the Donora 
smog. They also hoped that the federal investigation would help resolve 
thirty years of community conflict with U.S. Steel. Many residents saw the 
disaster of 1948 as simply the most recent and violent insult the 
community had suffered from industry. 

When the Donora zinc works opened in 1916 it was the biggest of its 
kind in the world, and one of the dirtiest. The plant used coal and gas to 
roast the zinc ore and drive impurities into the air. Ironically, and too late 
for Donora, that technology was almost immediately superceded in newer 
plants by much cleaner technology, which used electricity to melt the ore.' 
But U.S. Steel was not prepared to abandon its expensive Donora 
investment. Zinc was fetching high prices as a vital ingredient in munitions 
for World War I, which was then raging in Europe. 

Each day the Donora works billowed out giant clouds of oily and 
foul-smelling smoke that drifted on the winds west across Donora or east 
into the town of Webster. Local families were outraged by their 
foul-breathed neighbor. Webster's farmers and small holders 


had chosen the pristine river valley for its natural beauty and the rich soils 
long before the zinc works had arrived. Some farmers had been on the same 
land since the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. Now toxic smoke filled their 
homes and they watched in horror as the farmland above their town grew 
barren, rutted gullies slicing at the balding hillsides. 

The children of Donora and Webster were born into a near-eternal 
darkness of smoke and fumes, frolicking on land defoliated by chemical 
poisons.' Even the dead could not rest. Industry's fumes laid waste to 
Donora's lovely Civil War-era Gilmore cemetery. As the rootless earth 
eroded down the side of the valley, gravestones toppled and observers 
reported seeing dogs make off with human bones.' A 1941 novel by a 
former Donora steelworker, Thomas Bell, recalls a view of the zinc works 
from the Webster side of the river: 

Freshly charged, the zinc smelting furnaces, crawling with 
thousands of small flames, yellow, blue, green, filled the valley 
with smoke. Acrid and poisonous, worse than anything a steel 
mill belched forth, it penetrated everywhere, making 
automobile headlights necessary in Webster's streets, setting the 
river boat pilots to cursing God, and destroying every living 
thing on 
the hills. 4 

Webster families and some Donora supporters began to organize. The 
first health-damage suits against the zinc plant were filed in 1918. Marie 
Burkhardt, a Donora resident since 1904, told a jury that since the plant's 
opening she had suffered chest pains, a hacking cough, the loss of her voice, 
and headaches. The jury found her complaints plausible, and so did an 
appeals court judge. Burkhardt won a judgment of $500 against the zinc 
plant. Suits like Burkhardt's would continue, angry and unabated, until the 
plant closed some forty years later. Although claims in the name of 659 
plaintiffs had totaled $4.5 million in 1935, court victories were rare and 
settlements were usually tiny; residents faced an uphill battle against the 
richest steel company in the world, armed with legions of lawyers to defeat 
and delay the protests.' 


Suits did not get very far, noted a lifelong Webster resident, Allen 
Kline. He remembered two or three small victories like Burkhardts. In 
one case they got an award of $500. Another won $2500. Mostly people 
got tired of fighting. 

The children of Webster were some of America's earliest environmental 
protesters. Allen Kline s name was listed on a lawsuit against U.S. Steel by 
his grandfather when Kline was eight years old. His grandfather, an 
immigrant from Italy, had built their family home in Webster in 1914. He 
owned farmland in the hills above the town. Two years after he constructed 
the family s home, the zinc plant was built. For almost fifty years the Kline 
s home sat directly downwind from the zinc works. Kline remembers a 
1938 visit from distant cousins who lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on 
the other side of the state. They were supposed to stay for a week, but 
instead, "They were here for two days," he recalled. "They didn't know 
how we lived under these conditions. . . . We didnt know what it was to 
breathe clean air. 

After the 1948 disaster in Donora a protest group called the Society for 
Better Living took root in Webster s treeless soil. The twenty-two-year-old 
Kline became the secretary of the Society, which eventually had about 200 
members. Its slogan: Clean Air and Green Grass. 

For the next decade the Society waged a David-and-Goliath struggle 
with U.S. Steel. Tensions ran high in the community. Many Donora 
workers saw the Society as a threat to their jobs. Several Society officers 
received death threats, reported Kline. "A lot of people made a good living 
at the mill, he added. But the tiny group persisted. Its members held rallies, 
issued Kline's press releases, and even traveled to Washington, DC. Years 
later Kline remembered this Quixotic lobbying trip to the nation s capital. 
The self-described "idealistic" young newspaperman and his band of 
Webster residents had a fantastic notion: why didn't Congress enact 
nationwide laws against air pollution to protect communities such as their 
own? Their Washington pleas fell on deaf ears: "I don't think anybody ever 
knew we were there," said Kline. 

The president of the Society for Better Living, Abe Salapino, and deputy 
Kline grew anxious that spring of 1949. They watched as U.S. Steel 
public-relations men squired federal health officials around 


town, wining and dining them at local restaurants. We were concerned that 
they were winning the battle on this gastronomical front, said Kline. But 
Salapino owned a local restaurant. Guests came from Pittsburgh for his 
delicious meats and pastries, calling first to make sure that the wind was 
not blowing zinc fumes into the restaurant windows. Salapino and Kline 
now organized a sumptuous meal for the Public Health Service men on 
their final night in Donora, courtesy of the Society for Better Living. You 
couldnt believe this party," said Kline. "We had most of them drunk. We 
decided there is no way we are not going to get a favorable report out of this 

That summer, shortly before the much-anticipated PHS report was 
released, Allen Kline and other members of the Society for Better Living 
got their own surprise invitation. The president of the American Steel and 
Wire Division of U.S. Steel, Clifford Hood, wanted them to come to 
Pittsburgh for a friendly meeting. Kline was stunned. He had spent the last 
year issuing press releases blaming the company for the Donora deaths and 
complaining about pollution. At the meeting Hood denied that the zinc 
works had caused the disaster, but he conceded that U.S. Steel fumes may 
have damaged some vegetation in the valley. The admission was an 
about-face from the aggressive position the company had long taken in 
court. The meeting then became almost a love session between the two 
adversaries, Kline recalled. President Hood gave the twenty-two-year-old a 
couple of his Havana cigars. I was terribly impressed by him," said Kline. 

The following day the Donora papers reported the goodwill meeting and 
the steel company's promises to reduce smoke from the mills. The Society 
for Better Living was "perfectly convinced" of U.S. Steel's sincerity, the 
newspaper wrote. Kline realized that the meeting had been a 
public-relations stunt, a carrot for his group to improve U.S. Steels image 
in Donora. For the remaining decade of the zinc plants operation, no air 
scrubbers were installed, according to the Society for Better Living.' 

While Clifford Hood was passing out cigars to the Webster envi- 
ronmentalists, behind the scenes his company had hired the powerful 
Pittsburgh law firm of Reed, Smith, Shaw, and McClay, which was 
headquartered in Andrew Mellon s Union Trust bank build- 


ing. For much of the century the firm had been fighting citizens in court 
who claimed that their health and property had been hurt by industrial 
pollution. The well-heeled Pittsburgh lawyers were given new marching 
orders after the disaster: defeat the families of the Donora victims in court 
and escape any legal requirement to clean up the smelter operation. 

Robert Kehoes scientists became the secret weapon of the Pittsburgh 
lawyers, serving as U.S. Steels Trojan horse in Donora, nuz zling close to 
the official PHS investigation, and prying access to the government 
investigation and its confidential data. As a result PHS investigators gave 
Kettering officials samples of autopsy mate rial they had gathered 
immediately after the disaster — information they should not have given out. 
And when two of the Donora dead were exhumed for additional studies in 
March 1949, once again Ket-tering officials joined the PHS doctors around 
the autopsy table.' A former PHS historian, Lynn Page Snyder, calls this 
manipulation of the public trust by Kehoe the "underbelly" of the Donora 
investigation. While gaining broad access to the government investigation, 
Kehoe was privately working with U.S. Steel to shoot down citizen 

"Ethically, what was problematic to me was that Kettering officials were 
given slides with lung tissue, and permission was not requested from the 
next of kin of the people who passed away," Snyder remarked. "Some of 
the autopsies were done on people who were dug up after they had been 
interred. And the PHS and the Borough council and the Board of Health 
locally worked carefully with the families of the deceased to convince them 
to dig the bodies back up." Kehoe's access to all this medical data was 
granted, "without informing area residents of the purpose of Ket-tering 
efforts," Snyder added. 

Snyder wrote a detailed study of the Donora disaster as a graduate 
student, and she grew concerned that the federal government's 
investigation had focused on the weather in Donora that weekend, rather 
than on the "incredibly filthy" metal-smelting industries. "I am disturbed 
by the way it is remembered," she said. "I would like to see more 
discussion of the industrial nature of this disaster." 

According to Snyder, PHS officials were willing collaborators in efforts 
to suppress information about industry s role in the deaths. 


When Kehoe prepared U.S. Steels medicolegal defense against the Donora 
survivors, for example, he asked his government connections for 
information on the exact sequence of deaths and the time and location in 
which they occurred. The chief of the PHS s Division of Industrial Hygiene, 
J. G. Townsend, wrote back two weeks later giving Kehoe the government 
data that plotted the onset of the sickness in Donora during the disaster. 
And a second special table of data, correlating smog affliction with 
preexisting illness, was sent to Kettering and marked by the PHS "This 
information is CONFIDENTIAL and is submitted to Doctor Ashe for his 
personal use only.'" 

Snyder says that those statistics, which were reworked by Kehoe s team 
to narrowly define a so-called smog syndrome, helped to discount the role 
of the disaster in the many hundreds of chronic illnesses or deaths in the 
smog's long medical aftermath. Many of the lawsuits filed against U.S. 
Steel involved such cases. That particular information was helpful to 
William Ashe, Snyder pointed out, so that the Kettering people could 
construct a legal argument that ruled out a number of claims as being 
unrelated to the smog. 

The evidence that the federal government had secretly cooperated with 
Kehoe disturbed Snyder. It is collusion, she remarked. " I read that memo 
[the one marked "confidential"] as evidence of a public health service 
person collaborating in the case being prepared by Kettering against the 
plaintiffs — the citizens in Donora and in Webster — without their 
knowledge." Snyder added, "The information about the illnesses and the 
times of onset belonged to the citizens, just like the autopsy material. It was 
not information that ought to have been given to a private interest preparing 
[to defend a lawsuit] against them." 

In October 1949 the PHS report on Donora was finally released. It was 
an enormous disappointment to the victims families. They had hoped it 
would explain what poison killed their relatives that night and where it had 
come from. The 173-page government document, Public Health Service 
Bulletin 306, did neither. "They produced a report which looks the size of 
the Holy Bible," said Allen Kline, and came to virtually no conclusions. 

The government verdict that no single substance was responsible for 
the Donora deaths, however, was a triumph for the U.S. 


Steel Company. The reports emphasis on the bad weather effectively 
endorsed the same argument made by the U.S. Steel lawyers, that the 
disaster was not foreseeable and therefore an act of god. Blaming the 
weather had opened the door for a legal escape act. The reports failure to 
identify which factory or chemical had caused the deaths completed the 
corporate getaway. The report did not improve the prospects of the town 
one whit, noted Lynne Snyder. 

Oscar Ewing — Alcoa s former chief counsel, friend of President Truman, 
and head of the Federal Security Agency — wrote the intro duction to the 
official final report of the Donora investigation. He was silent about his 
past corporate loyalty to Alcoa. He was silent about the fact that the 
international aluminum industry had been fighting lawsuits alleging 
fluoride damage from air pollution for forty years. And he was silent about 
the sixty-three people who had been killed in 1930 in the Meuse Valley air 
pollution disaster in Belgium. Instead, Ewing fatuously declared that air 
pollution was "a new and heretofore unsuspected source of danger." 
Donora had revealed the almost completely unknown effects on health of 
many types of air pollution existing today, he added. 

It was a rank Washington smokescreen. Alcoa had spent much of World 
War II and its aftermath grappling with massive lawsuits and citizen 
protests over fluoride air pollution from aluminum plants.' Oscar Ewing s 
legal colleague Frank B. Ingersoll was a partner in the Pittsburgh law firm 
of Smith, Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rodewald, and Eckert that had fought many 
of those lawsuits on behalf of Alcoa; Frank L. Seamans of the same firm 
would coordinate a national corporate legal defense strategy in the 1950s as 
chairman of the Fluorine Lawyers Committee. 

The PHS report itself, 'Air Pollution in Donora, Pa — Epidemiology of 
the Unusual Smog Episode of October 1948, was written by the 
Manhattan Projects wartime fluoride consultant, Helmuth Schrenk. He 
was particularly adamant in his efforts to disqualify fluoride as the killer 
agent. The possibility is slight that toxic concentrations of fluoride 
accumulated during the October 1948 episode," Schrenk wrote. 

The PHS report, however, made no mention of the high fluoride levels 
in Donora vegetation that Kettering researcher Edward Lar-gent had 
gathered during a cloak-and-dagger trip to Donora in the 


summer of 1949. Kettering s Dr. William Ashe had written a letter of 
introduction for Largent on July it, to the Director of Industrial Relations at 
the Donora Works, Mr. E. Soles: Largent ... will be around Donora for a 
day or two, looking into the problem of the effects of particulate fluorides 
upon foliage and crops. There is no direct relationship between this matter 
and the smog disaster, but there may be an additional problem which could 
cause the company considerable embarrassment. ... I suggest that the 
purpose of his mission be kept entirely to yourself.' 

Philip Sadtler had blamed fluoride for defoliating Donora's trees and 
grass. Largent confirmed high fluoride levels in local vegeta-tion. 12 Why 
the need for Largent's secrecy? 

"It sounds like there was a problem with fluorine emissions and it was 
clandestine because Kettering did not want other people to know about 
it — clear as that," believes Lynn Snyder. "The clandestine part fits in with 
the rest of their activities. If they told people like a plant manager, word 
would get out, and Phil Sadtler's theory would get more credence. 

Schrenks PHS report also dismissed the numerous medical accounts of 
long-term health problems caused by air pollution in Donora and the 
common experience of the residents who invariably became sicker when 
the smelter fumes were trapped in the valley. And critics found the 
government report to be laden with mathematical errors, especially when it 
came to determining fluoride emissions. The report guessed that 210 tons 
of coal burned in homes emitted 30 pounds of fluoride, but 213 tons burned 
in the mills gave off only 4 pounds. "No possible reason for the difference 
is offered," said the physician and researcher Dr. Frederick B. Exner. On 
page 104 of the report, Exner pointed out, waste gas from the blast furnace 
contains 4.6 mg of fluoride per cubic meter; on page 108 it contains 
one-tenth as much. "An elaborate piece of hocus-pocus," concluded Exner. 
"Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial to prove anything except how 
easily people — and I mean those who call themselves scientists — can be 

The report made no effort to explain why Donora residents were so 
terribly injured that weekend while the nearby town of Mones-sen, which 
had a steel works and the same bad weather, had been relatively unscathed. 
But Monessen had no zinc works, residents noted. A local newspaper 
editorialized that the relationship between 


the Donora Zinc Works and the smog was something that no 
investigation is necessary to prove. All you need is a reasonably good 
pair of eyes.' 

Allen Kline agreed. We thought it was common sense that it was 
the zinc works. That is what was different in Donora. 

Sadtler knew he could not compete with the Pubic Health Service. 
"When the US government says that something is sulfur dioxide and 
not fluorine, he said, then people are taking their word and not my 

Scientist Kathleen Thiessen is an expert on risk analysis and has 
written about the health effects of fluoride for the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency. For this book she reviewed many of the 
confidential and unpublished Kettering documents and compared 
them with the official published conclusion by the Public Health 
Service on the Donora disaster.' Unlike the PHS report, Thiessen 
concluded that, judging from the information included in the 
Ket-tering documents, fatal quantities of fluoride could have certainly 
have been present in the valley during the disaster weekend, posing a 
lethal risk to the elderly and the infirm. 

To come to this conclusion, Thiessen first made a rough estimate 
of how much air blanketed Donora that weekend. If the Donora valley 
was about 2.5 miles long, between 0.5 and 1.5 miles wide, and some 
340 feet deep, then between 320 and 96o million cubic meters of air 
lay over the town, trapped by a temperature inversion. The Donora 
steel plant had a daily production capacity of 1,450 tons of steel. 
Thiessen then calculated that, if each ton of steel requires 2 kg of 
fluoride, then as much as 2,900 kg (6,380 pounds) of fluoride could 
have been released per day without emission controls. Trapped by the 
stagnant weather conditions and suspended over Donora, these 
airborne fluoride concentrations could have soared well above the 
concentrations set as industry standard for an 8 hour day. (Addition- 
ally, of course, the zinc plant was belching out fluoride. But without 
surviving data on that plant's daily production capacity, Thiessen was 
not able to make an equivalent calculation for how much fluoride it 
may also have contributed during the disaster.) 

It is not possible, with just the existing documents, to know with 
certainty whether fluoride killed Donora s citizens, concluded 
Thies-sen. Nevertheless, she indicated, her series of calculations show 
that there is the potential that routine releases of fluorine or fluoride, 


under conditions of little or no air dispersion, could result in air 
concentrations high enough to be dangerous to some individuals in the 
general public. 

Thiessen was unimpressed with the science behind the official PHS 
report. She likened it to similar reports written today, where the intent is to 
obscure the truth, not reveal it. My take was that they did a very fine job 
of writing lots of words in the hopes that nobody would see through to the 
fact that there was not much information there," she said. 

Thiessen was especially skeptical of the governments scientific 
methodology in exonerating fluoride. Months after the disaster the PHS 
investigators measured urine samples in Donora children. The fluoride 
levels were low, and the investigators concluded that fluoride had therefore 
not been a problem during the disaster. It was a ludicrous argument, 
Thiessen explained. "They made a point in their report to say there is 
clearly no evidence of chronic fluoride exposure, but you cannot from that 
say there was no acute exposure on a given weekend six months ago. But 
they tried to do that. You 

Today investigators who want to examine how the PHS reached its 
conclusions are stymied. The raw data and records of the governments 
Donora investigation are missing from the U.S. National Archives and 
cannot be found. It is a shameful omission and a shocking breach of public 
trust, particularly as the Donora study was the first federal investigation of 
air pollution. "They may have been thrown out, suggested Snyder, who 
spent five years looking for these federal records. "Someone may have 
decided they were too hot to handle and got rid of them. You have to 
suspect the worst." 

Philip Sadtler confirms the worst. 16 Six months after the disaster, U.S. 
Steel and the Public Health Service ran a test in Donora to simulate and 
measure the air pollutants that had been present in the atmosphere at the 
time. Sadtler was in town that day as the zinc and steel plants fired up and 
began billowing their smoke and fumes. He stepped into the mobile 
laboratory where government scientists were monitoring the "test smog." 
"I looked in and the chemist said, "Phil, come on in.' Very friendly," Sadtler 
remembered. "He says, Phil, I know that you are right, but I am not 
allowed to say so. 

The government conclusion — that no single pollutant had caused the 
Donora deaths — helped to checkmate the Donora families who were suing 
U.S. Steel. A more grotesque spectacle quickly followed. 


As soon as the report was published, Helmuth Schrenk, the fluoride expert 
who had led the governments investigation, switched sides. He literally 
crossed the street from the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Pittsburgh, joined the 
private Mellon Institute as a research director, and signed up as an expert 
courtroom witness for U.S. Steel, ready to testify against the very Donora 
citizens whose devastated city he had just investigated for the U.S. 

It still makes me angry, said historian Lynne Snyder. For the chief of 
the investigation to immediately make himself avail-able to be an expert 
witness against the plaintiffs of the town is something I would like to have 
information about. Did he receive money from U.S. Steel? Did he receive 
it after he left the employ of PHS?" 

Schrenk joined Robert Kehoe and Harvard University air pollution 
expert Professor Philip Drinker as expert witnesses for U.S. Steel.' The 
one-two punch of a flaccid official investigation and the defection of its 
chief investigator to the side of industry crippled the victims' court case. In 
April 1951, on the eve of the first "test case" trial of smog victim Suzanne 
Gnora, the plaintiffs' lawyer — the former Pennsylvania attorney general, 
Charles Margiotti — settled with U.S. Steel. Facing 160 victim claims 
totaling $4.5 million, U.S. Steel settled for a one-time payment of a quarter 
of a million dollars to be disbursed among families of the dead and injured. 
One-third of the money went to Margiotti. The biggest, richest steel 
corporation in the world admitted no guilt nor accepted any obligation to 
reduce air pollution. 

Allen Kline received a check for $500. Families of the dead garnered 
about $4,000 apiece, less Margiotti's third, Kline remembered. There was 
much anger at the courtroom deal. "We were furious," Kline said. "We 
weren't interested in the suits for money, we were interested in the suits to 
publicize what we considered a very serious health hazard." 

After the settlement the Donora disaster slipped from public attention. 
Philip Sadtlers report of fluoride poisoning was almost forgotten. Even 
the Society for Better Living grew tired and gave up fighting the zinc 
works. The whole thing just seemed to fade away," Kline said. I was 
weary of getting nowhere. 

Allen Kline never found out what chemical made him sick that 
weekend nor what killed so many of his fellow townsfolk. Despite 



the fumes, Allen Kline remained in the Webster home that his grandfather 
had built. The newspaperman developed a whole raft of illnesses, including 
a heart problem, diabetes, and a case of arthritis so crippling that he was 
forced into retirement, where an electric elevator chair carried him on rails 
each night upstairs to bed. Kline's daughter, born in the same Webster 
home, died of cancer. When the zinc mill finally closed in 1957 and the air 
over Webster cleared, to Allen Kline it was an epiphany. "I didn't know life 
could be that grand," he said. 

It Was Murder 

NINE YEARS AFTER the disaster, two officials from the U.S. Public 
Health Service, Antonio Ciocco and D. J. Thompson, returned to Donora, 
to work with an air-pollution consultant from the University of Pittsburgh, 
John Rumford. Ciocco and Thompson published data showing that Donora 
citizens who had been sick during the disaster remained at greater risk of 
illness and early death.' x But John Rumford's explosive findings — of 
fluoride poisoning in Donora — were never published. The suppression of 
the fluoride findings by the government health experts mirrored perfectly 
the evasions and omissions of their PHS colleagues a decade earlier. 
Without alerting the public, Rumford had taken soil measurements from 
eight locations in Donora, including downwind from the steelwork's blast 
furnace. In six of his readings, he found 200-800 parts per million of 
fluoride in soil. Downwind from the blast furnace, however, his two 
readings were 1,600 and 2,500 ppm respectively. Rumford next studied 
health data from the disaster, gathering more firsthand information on 
Donora health complaints and inquiring whether reported illnesses were 
more severe when temperature inversions trapped pollutants in the valley. 
His conclusions were simple. According to a PHS official who examined 
his data, Rumford's basic findings were: 

1. That there is a relation between month-to-month variation in 

sickness and month-to-month variation in . . . air pollution. 

2. That there is more illness in an area over which fluorides are 

blown from the factory. 


The suspected fluorosis occurred in the same five-block radius 
downwind from the Donora steel works where half of the disaster dead had 
lived, Rumford reported. His data also showed that cardiovascular 
problems grew worse when the smog gathered in the Donora Valley and 
that former open-hearth steel workers who handled raw fluoride were 
especially affected by arthritis and 

At first the new generation of PHS officials seemed excited by 
Rumford's work. The Donora disaster might have a silver lining, they even 
suggested. The health data might offer a road map for a nation struggling to 
chart new policies to combat air pollution and to determine the health 
effects of the most dangerous poisons in the atmosphere. The grim health 
effects of fluoride air pollution were very clear in John Rumford s data, the 
PHS officials saw. Dr. Ciocco liked this part about the fluoride findings, 
reported one of the reviewers of Rumford s work, Nicholas E. Manos, who 
was the Chief Statistician of the PHS s Air Pollution Medical Program. In 
the case of suspected fluorosis, that is, cases of arthritis and rheuma tism, 
Dr. Manos explained, you have a correlation with a specific agent, a 
correlation with the wind trajectory, and also a correlation with the 
presence of those whose occupation places them near the open hearth using 
raw fluoride. 

Similar health problems associated with fluoride air pollution had been 
seen elsewhere in the country, noted Manos. And Dr. Leon O. Emik, the 
Chief of Laboratory Investigations for the PHS Air Pollution Medical 
Program, contemplated initiating a bold nationwide study on fluoride's 
health effects. "Dr. Emik suggested we study mortality from arthritis and 
rheumatism from various cities for possible relation with the frequency of 
fluoride air pollution. We must remember in this connection Mrs. 
Gleeson's findings of an increase in cardiovascular deaths in Florida after 
the influx of plants using fluoride," Manos wrote. (Philip Sadtler had gone 
to Donora, of course, at the request of Florida farmers battling the 
fluoride-polluting phosphate industry.) 

Instead of pointing a fresh finger at an especially dangerous air pollutant, 
however, John Rumford s fluoride findings remained unpublished. And for 
more than forty years the 1949 Public Health Service report on Donora 
exonerating fluoride has stood as the 


established account of the most famous air pollution disaster in U.S. 
history. Its critics were largely forgotten, and fluoride slipped almost 
entirely from most public discussion of air pollution. When the fiftieth 
anniversary of the disaster was marked in 1998, no newspaper even 
mentioned fluoride. Philip Sadtler had died two years earlier. At a 
municipal church ceremony in Donora an EPA official mentioned only that 
the long-ago Halloween disaster had shown that pollution can kill people. 
A second EPA official blamed the deaths on "a mix" of sulfur dioxide, 
carbon monoxide, and metal dust. 

The shabby treatment Donora citizens received from their government 
can be attributed, perhaps, to national-security concerns — a consequence 
of the urgency seizing the United States as it stared down the barrel of a 
fast-approaching global confrontation with Soviet Russia. Fluoride was 
critical to the U.S. economy and military defense, and industry's freedom to 
use it could not be seriously hampered during the cold war. Maybe it is 
because it happened in the late 1940s when the U.S. attention was really 
turned to other issues. During the Donora investigation the Soviets 
exploded Little Joe and the cold war got underway. Berlin was blockaded. 
A lot of big things in foreign policy were going on at that time, says Lynn 
Snyder. Or maybe this treatment was simply due to the fact that it affected 
a working-class community," she added. 

Scientist Kathleen Thiessen also gives a cold-war interpretation to the 
shunning of Philip Sadtler and the governments histrionic disavowal of 
fluoride as Donora s killer chemical. There certainly was a vested interest 
on the part of the government not to get the public upset about 
fluoride — after all if we are spewing out thousands of pounds a month or a 
day or whatever at Oak Ridge, and probably Portsmouth and Paducah [two 
other fluoride gaseous diffusion plants] and some other places, we don't 
want the public to get concerned. We don't want to suddenly say, "Hey, 
twenty people died because of a fluoride release last weekend.' This would 
not be good. We might get somebody upset. The aluminum industry of 
course was part of the cold war effort too." 

Philip Sadtler held a more basic view. Until his death he remained clear 
about what had happened at Donora and who was responsible for these 
events. It was murder, he said. I thought that the directors of U.S. Steel 
should have gone to jail for killing people. 


Although the Donora disaster faded from public view, Federal Security 
administrator Oscar Ewing was soon back in the nations headlines. Nine 
months after his Public Health Service exonerated fluoride of the 
Halloween tragedy in western Pennsylvania, Ewing had a surprise 
announcement for the nation: the U.S. Public Health Service was reversing 
a long-held position. The ex-Alcoa lawyer declared that his agency now 
favored adding fluoride to drinking water supplies across the United States. 


As Vital to Our National Life 
As a Spark Plug to a Motor Car 

THE RAW MILITARY power that won World War II flowed directly, as 
molten metal, from blast furnaces and aluminum pot lines and from the 
American mastery of the atomic bomb. Fluoride was at the chemical core 
of all these operations. While the American public was told that fluoride 
was safe and good for children s teeth, U.S. strategic planners stockpiled 
fluoride during the cold war for a feared global war with the Communists.' 

Fluoride was declared a "strategic and critical" material by the 
government after World War II. In 1950, as the Korean war erupted, 
President Truman asked the head of CBS television, William S. Paley, to 
chair a task force to study the United States' mineral reserves — and its 
vulnerabilities to having imports cut off in wartime.' 

Fluoride was the lif eblood of the modern industrial economy, the Paley 
Commission reported. "[Fluoride] ... is an essential component of 
enormously vital industries whose dollar value is measured in billions and 
upon which the whole national industrial structure increasingly depends, 
wrote one Paley analyst in a document marked RESTRICTED. Without 
this little known mineral, the document continued, "such industrial giants 
as aluminum, steel, and chemicals would be most severely affected. Little 
or no aluminum could be produced; steel production would be reduced 
substantially; the output and quality of important chemical products such 
as refrigerants, propellants for insecticides, and plastics would be 
significantly cut down. ' 


x 49 

Fluoride was as vital to our national life as a spark plug to a motor car, 
announced C. O. Anderson, the vice president of the nations largest 
fluorspar producer, Ozark Mahoning. (Fluorspar is the mineral ore from 
which most industrial fluoride is produced). Your car doesnt run if the 
spark plug is in the control of any foreign country, Anderson warned the 
Paley Commission. Fluorides importance would only grow, predicted 
Miles Haman, Manager of the Crystal Fluorspar Company in Illinois. 

General expansion of industrial facilities and building up of war machines 
all over the world [would necessitate] using much aluminum and steel and 
consequently more fluorspar.' 

There was bad news, Paley's team heard. Fluoride stockpiles had fallen 
below danger point levels and domestic supplies were growing short. 

The U.S. is vulnerable security-wise were a hot war suddenly to develop, 
stated Paley analyst Donor M. Lion.' While 369,000 tons of fluorspar had 
been consumed by industry in the United States in 1950, a million tons 
would be needed by 1975, the team projected. If the United States were 
compelled to rely on natural fluorspar alone, serious obstacles to growth 
and security would emerge, the group reported. 

But a magic bullet promised to ensure a continued strong national 
defense, planners heard. Short on fluorspar reserves, the United States was 
blessed with one of the worlds largest supplies of natural phosphate, a raw 
mineral that lay in huge geological deposits in Florida. The mineral was the 
feedstock for the production of superphosphate fertilizer. It contained 
significant quantities of fluoride — 3 or 4 percent — and traces of numerous 
other chemicals, including uranium.' America was sitting on its own 
virtually inexhaustible supply of fluoride. Could the phosphate industry 
supply fluoride for the nation, the government asked? 

Sure — if the price was right, answered Paul Manning, a vice president of 
the phosphate-producing International Minerals and Chemical Corporation. 
If the fluoride that was then being belched as pollution into the 
orange-perfumed Florida air — some nineteen tons in 1957 alone — could 
only fetch a better price on the market, then the phosphate industry might 
just be willing to trap some of their waste as silicofluoride! The difficulty 
with this, Manning told the Commission, is that sodium silico fluoride is a 

drug on 


the market, and the price which can be obtained for it is not attrac tive 
enough to result in its production. ' 

The Florida phosphate producers could supply fluoride, explained 
Manning, but they had little current incentive. Despite a hornets nest of 
lawsuits from farmers and angry local citizens gassed by fluoride fumes, it 
appeared cheaper for industry to fight the lawsuits and concomitant efforts 
to regulate pollution than to trap the toxic emissions.' "At the present time 
we have no idea as to the point to which prices would have to rise to justify 
the current recovery techniques," Manning told the Commission. 

The dilemma was clear. The government wanted the Florida fluoride in 
case of wartime emergency — but the state's phosphate producers needed a 
carrot before capturing their toxic waste. "The phosphate industry is 
primarily interested in super-phosphate, and fluorine recovery is a very 
minor matter. This is the kind of potential shortage that could develop into 
a full-blown crisis before a move is made to avert it, warned one Paley 

An elegant solution existed, of course. Using the phosphate industry's 
waste to fluoridate public water supplies meant that the fertilizer producers 
would now pay far less, if anything, to dispose of their most troublesome 
toxic waste. They would be guaranteed a source of taxpayer revenue for 
installing pollution-control devices; and U.S. strategic planners would win 
a nearly inexhaustible potential supply of domestic fluoride. There was yet 
another potential cold-war reason for disposing of fluosilicic acid in public 
water supplies. The Florida phosphate beds were also an important source 
of uranium, harvested for the Atomic Energy Commission. Because 
uranium is only a trace mineral in the phosphate deposits, enormous 
quantities had to be processed to glean worthwhile amounts of uranium, so 
much waste fluoride was also produced. Permitting that fluoride to be 
dumped in public water supplies — rather than being disposed of as toxic 
waste — reduced the cost of such uranium extraction and provided a supply 
of fluoride. 12 

In 1983 the EPA's Rebecca Hamner acknowledged that fluoridating 
water with phosphate-industry waste was a fix for Florida's environmental 
pollution. "This Agency regards such use as an ideal environmental 
solution to a long standing problem, the Deputy Assistant Administrator 
for Water wrote. "By recovering by-product 


fluosilicic acid from fertilizer manufacturing, water and air pollution 
are minimized, and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride 
available to them, she added. 13 

DID COLD-WAR PLANNERS also encourage water fluoridation to 
guarantee an alternative supply of fluoride for war industries or to 
reduce the cost of disposing of fluoride waste generated by uranium 
production? On June I, 1950, as communist troops prepared for an 
invasion of South Korea, the Public Health Service abruptly reversed 
its opposition and declared that it now favored adding fluoride to 
water supplies. 14 The PHS now smiled upon fluoride, announced 
Oscar Ewing, whose Federal Security Agency was in charge of the 
PHS. He attributed this change of opinion to results from the water 
fluoridation experiment in Newburgh, New York, which showed a 65 
percent reduction in dental cavities in local children. 15 

But the origins of the Newburgh study, as we saw in chapter 6, were 
manifestly suspicious. And irrespective of the dental data ( which have 
been seriously questioned 16 ), the Newburgh fluorida-tion experiment 
was a safety trial — designed to last for ten years to research potential 
side effects of drinking fluoridated water. When Ewing announced the 
government's about-face in 1950, the safety study was only half 

Ewing was well placed to act on ulterior national security concerns 
or on behalf of industry. His Federal Security Agency was one of the 
most powerful cold-war government bureaus. He had been Alcoa s 
legal liaison to Washington during World War II, shaping the massive 
expansion of the nation's aluminum industry. And the former Wall 
Street lawyer was a member of an inner circle of Truman confidants 
known as the Wardman Park group, who ate each Monday night at 
Ewing's Washington apartment and whose cigar-smoking, 
steak-dining members included Clark Clifford, who was famously 
close to the Pentagon and the CIA." 

"No Injury Would Occur" — 
Harold Hodge Turns the Tide 

WATER-FLUORIDATION ADVOCATES greeted the government flip-flop 
with rapture. Two Wisconsin dentists were especially elated. 


Dr. John Frisch and Dr. Frank Bull, the state dental officer, had been 
among the nations earliest profluoridation activists, lobbying federal 
officials with an enthusiasm that bordered on the perverse. In 1944 Dr. 
Frisch began giving his seven-year-old daughter Marylin water from a jug 
hed prepared with 1.5 ppm fluoride. (That same year the Journal of the 
American Dental Association had editorialized, Our knowledge of the 
subject certainly does not warrant the introduction of fluorine in 
community water supplies. ) Frisch placed "Poison" labels on the 
unfluoridated kitchen faucets, to remind Marylin to drink his potion 

Three years later the fathers passion was rewarded, according to 
historian Donald McNeil as related in his 1957 book, The Fight for 
Fluoridation. Sitting in a Madison restaurant, Dr. Frisch noticed a "flash" 
on his daughter's teeth. "He could hardly believe his eyes," McNeil wrote. 
It looked like a case of mottling. He rushed her out -side in the bright 
sunlight and thought he noticed it again. Next day he excitedly asked 
Frank Bull over to get his opinion. Bull con curred.... It was mottling. 
(Remember, fluorosis does nothing to strengthen a tooth, may in fact 
weaken it, and is a visible indicator of systemic fluoride poisoning during 
the period that the teeth were being formed. No matter how mild the 
mottling, it is an external sign of internal distress, according to the 
scientist H. V. Smith, one of the researchers who in the 1930s discovered 
that fluoride was mottling teeth.)' 

Now, as the PHS endorsed water fluoridation for the rest of the 

United States, a similar thrill ran through the Wisconsin dentists. 

"Cease firing!" wrote Frisch. "The hard fight is over," added Frank 

Bull. 19 

But the fight was just beginning. Almost immediately citizens began to 
learn some disturbing information. The world's leading fluoride authority, 
Kaj Roholm, had opposed giving fluoride to children. The AMA and the 
ADA had all editorialized against fluoridation as recently as the early 
1940s. And leading scientists, such as M. C. and H. V. Smith, also worried 
about adding fluoride to water supplies. Although mottled teeth are 
somewhat more resistant to the onset of decay, they are structurally weak; 
when the decay does set in the result is often disastrous, the 
husband-and-wife team reported. 



The Smiths sounded an obvious warning. "If intake of fluoride 
( through drinking water) can harm the delicate enamel to such an 
extent that it fails to enamelize the unborn teeth in children, is there 
any reason to believe that the destructive progress of fluoride ends 
right there? The range between toxic and non-toxic levels of fluoride 
ingestion is very small, Drs. Smith added. Any procedure for 
increasing fluorine consumption to the so-called upper limits of 
toxicity would be hazardous. 21 

Fluoride was put to the vote for the first time on September 19, 
1950. It was a gloriously unruly and democratic spectacle. The Wis 
consin town of Steven s Point had been fluoridating its water for five 
months, but local activists — including a poet, a railroad repair -man, 
and a local businessman — forced the town council to put the issue to 
the ballot. After a colorful debate in the pages of the local newspapers, 
and rallies with activists caroling Good-bye, Fluorine to the tune of 
Good Night, Irene, fluoridation was defeated in Stevens Point by a 
vote of 3,705 to 2,166. 

A wildfire of citizen protest now flashed across the United States. 
The antifluoride camp found one of their most distinguished voices in 
a Michigan doctor, George L. Waldbott. The German-born physician 
was a medical pioneer and allergy specialist who had carried out the 
first ever pollen survey in Michigan in 1927 and the first national 
fungus survey in 1937. 22 In 1933 he reported on sudden deaths from 
local and general anesthetics, and was the first scientist to report on 
similar fatal allergic reactions to penicillin, drawing the attention of 
Time magazine. He had written a book on skin allergies called Contact 
Dermatitis, and in 1953 he published the first medical report on the 
emphysema caused by smoking 
cigarettes. 23 

Waldbott now turned his attention to fluoride. In the spring of 1953, 
Waldbott's wife, Edith, pointed him to recent medical criticism of 
water fluoridation at a February 1952 Congressional hearing on the 
use of chemicals in food. Waldbott, the vice president of the 
American College of Allergists, began his own investigations and 
soon found that fluoride was no different from many other drugs and 
chemicals: some people were uniquely sensitive and suffered acute, 
painful, and debilitating allergy to small amounts of additional 
fluoride in their water. 

x 54 


Again and again Waldbott came across patients in his own practice who, 
when they ceased intake of their fluoridated water supply, were relieved of 
symptoms ranging from stiffness and pain in the spine to muscle weakness 
from stomach upsets to visual disturbances and headaches. His first report 
of such a patient appeared in medical literature in 1955, and by 1958 he had 
come across many more cases.' In these patients, ranging from an 
eight-year-old girl to a sixty-two-year-old woman, he ran scientific "double 
blind" tests in which the patients were given water without knowing 
whether it was fluoridated or not. The symptoms recurred only if they were 
given fluoridated water, the scientist reported." 

Waldbott was not the only doctor to spot that some people were 
especially sensitive to fluoride. A former University of Rochester 
researcher, Dr. Reuben Feltman, who was working on a PHS grant at the 
Passaic General Hospital in New Jersey, also reported that fluoride 
supplements given to pregnant women caused eczema, neurological 
problems, and stomach and bowel upsets." 

Medical professionals saw that it was impossible to control how much 
fluoride somebody ingested. Athletes and other active individuals, or 
people in hot climates, diabetics, or the kidney-injured drink more and 
therefore consume more fluoride. There are varying amounts of fluoride in 
food, while hundreds of thousands of workers are exposed to fluorides in 
their jobs." There seemed to be little or no margin of safety between the 
amount of fluoride that was associated with fewer cavities and the amount 
that would cause injury. Unfortunately the line between mottling and no 
mottling is an elusive one and the degree of control to be exercised seems 
to be very fine, concluded Dr. George Rapp, professor of biochemistry and 
physiology of Loyola University School of Dentistry." (Even at the level of 
1 part per million, at which the optimal cavity-fighting effect was 
reported, dental mottling was seen in a portion of the population, according 
to the PHS expert H. Trendley Dean.'") 

Fluoride promoters had a simple solution. Mottled teeth were described 
as a "cosmetic" issue, not a health problem. Most importantly, promoters 
vigorously denied that any injury to bones or organs could ever be 
produced from drinking water fluoridated at 1 part per million. 


To make that safety argument, the government turned to a familiar 
face, Dr. Harold Hodge from the University of Rochester. In two key 
papers for the National Research Council (NRC) and the American 
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), pub lished in 
1953 and 1954 respectively, Hodge maintained that Present 
knowledge fails to indicate any health hazard associated with the extra 
deposition of fluoride in the skeleton that will undoubtedly accompany 
water fluoridation. 

For a generation, these papers would be a primary source for the 
reassurances given to Congress and to millions of citizens in the 
United States and around the world of the safety of water fluo-ridation. 
The small print at the end stated that they were based on work 
performed under contract with the U. S. Atomic Energy Project, 
Rochester, New York. 

Hodges assurances were profoundly helpful to industry and the 
nations fledgling nuclear program. The large doses he found to be 
safe for the public and for nuclear workers became for several gen- 
erations of establishment health officials the medical template for 
discussing the dangers of fluoride exposure, and laid a medicolegal 
foundation for the courtroom defense that worker sickness could not 
possibly be due to fluoride? 

Hodge also wielded his safety assurances in Congress to cut down 
the citizen protest against water fluoridation that was springing up 
across the country. By the mid-1950s, unimpressed by the Public 
Health Service endorsement — and connected by George and Edith 
Waldbotts bimonthly newspaper called National Fluoridation News, 
which contained reviews on the latest medical information, updates of 
antifluoride referenda around the country, and cartoons by New 
Yorker contributor Robert Day — an unruly alliance of doctors, 
dentists, scientists, and community groups were successfully turning 
back fluoridation at the ballot box. Seattle had experienced a 
tumultuous debate in 1952, voting almost 2 to 1 in a referendum 
against fluoride. The following year Cincinnati voters also said no. By 
the mid-1950s the tide of public opinion appeared to be moving 
against fluoride, according to the historian Donald McNeil. 

[By December 1955] The U.S. Public Health Service reported that 
of 231 communities voting on fluoridation 127 had rejected it, 
McNeil wrote. Adverse referenda votes in twenty-eight communities 


had discontinued established projects. Six months later the proponents had 
won eight more elections campaigns, the anti-fluorida-tion forces 
forty-five, he added." 

In 1954 national legislation banning fluoridation was proposed in 
Congress by Rep. Roy Wier of Minnesota. The suggested law, HR 2341, 
was titled A Bill to Protect the Public Health from the Dangers of 
Fluoridation of Water. It forbade any federal state or local authority from 
adding fluoride to water supplies. Hearings were held at the end of May in 
Room 1334 of the New House Office Building, with a great array of 
medical figures testifying against and in favor of the bill. 31 

George Waldbott led the opposition. Symptoms of chronic low-level 
fluoride poisoning, such as nausea, general malaise, joint pains, decreased 
blood clotting, anemia were vague and insidious testified Waldbott, and 
could therefore easily be blamed on something other than fluoride — which 
made a correct diagnosis difficult, particularly for doctors who knew little 
about fluoride s toxic potential. Waldbott repeated his arguments that as a 
result of the danger of allergic reaction, the varying amounts of water drunk 
by different people, the risk to kidney patients or diabetics, and the extra 
fluoride consumed in food, there can be no such thing as a safe 
concentration. Neither the benefit nor the safety of fluorida-tion water 
supplies are sufficiently proven to warrant experimenta tion with human 
life, Waldbott told Congress. 

But once again Harold Hodge stepped into the breach, saving the day for 
the government. He blunderbussed fluoride opponents with his National 
Academy of Sciences-approved data. The Rochester scientist was the 
nation's leading fluoride authority, a member of the Mellon Institutes 
Industrial Hygiene Association, chairman of the prestigious National 
Academy of Sciences Committee on Toxicology — and, of course, the 
former chief toxicologist of the Manhattan Project. It would take a massive 
dose of fluoride, Hodge testified — between 20 and 8o milligrams 
consumed daily for to to 20 years — to produce injury. Waldbott was 
mistaken, water fluoridation was harmless, Hodge insisted. Even if all 
the fluoride ingested in the drinking water (1 part per million) in a lifetime 
were stored in the skeleton, Hodge told Congress, no injury would occur.' 

Hodges sober assurances provided the coup de grace for the 


legislation. The proposed law banning fluoridation expired in committee 
and never made it to the floor of the Congress for a full vote. And Hodges 
safety data were repeated for a generation, mantralike, in countless 
speeches, official documents, pamphlets, magazine articles, and textbooks. 
They were widely used by the American Dental Association and the World 
Health Organization. As recently as 1997 these same numbers were cited by 
the federal Institute of Medicine. 3 " 

And no one noticed when, in an obscure paper published in y79, after all 
the tumult and shouting had died down, Hodge quietly admitted that his 
safety figures had been wrong (see chapter 17). 


Engineering Consent 

VISITING THE CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, home of Edward L. 
Bernays was a thrilling and unsettling experience. On the occasion of his 
hundredth birthday in 1991, 1 spoke with him for the British Broadcasting 
Corporations World Service.' The nephew of Sigmund Freud was in 
good health, briskly walking me to an old-fashioned elevator that rose 
into his private office. 

The elevator seemed like a time machine. Bernays seized the brass 
control switch, and the lattice cage doors slammed shut. The diminutive 
old man smiled, his eyes twinkling. His audience was captive, and once 
again the tiny hands of Mr. Edward L. Bernays-the "father of public 
relations" — gripped the levers of power. The doors opened. We entered a 
softly lit photo gallery. Bernays shuffled forward, pointing proudly. 
There he was, rubbing shoulders with men of power from the twentieth 
century, like the omnipresent character in the Woody Allen movie Zelig: 
Bernays at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles; Bernays with Henry 
Ford, with Thomas Edison, with Eleanor Roosevelt, with 
Eisenhower, with Truman; and Bernays with George Hill, the head of the 
American Tobacco Company. (Bernays's wife was the leading feminist 
Doris Fleischman. He was a master of exploiting such modern liberal 
sentiment. On behalf of his tobacco client Bernays had once persuaded 
women's suffrage activists to march in the 1929 New York Easter Parade 
holding cigarettes as "torches of liberty." ) 2 

The tiny propagandist counted among his clients the dancer Nijinski, 
the singer Enrico Caruso, and some of the most powerful 


corporations in America, including CBS, Procter and Gamble, and Allied 
Signal. Bernays also had close ties to the U.S. military. As a young man in 
World War I he had been a foot soldier in the governments Committee on 
Public Information, creating some of the nation s earliest war propaganda. 
He volunteered those skills for the U.S. Army in World War II, and during 
the cold war he was in communication with the CIA. Other resume items 
included advising the United Fruit Company during the U.S. governments 
overthrow of the elected government of Guatemala; shaping strategy for 
the U.S. Information Agency (USIA); and advising the government of 
South Vietnam. 

Bernays also persuaded Americans to add fluoride to water.' 

"I do recall doing that," he said softly during another interview at his 
home in 1993. Although Bernays was then 102 years old, his memory was 
good. Selling fluoride was child s play, Bernays explained. The PR wizard 
specialized in promoting new ideas and products to the public by stressing 
a claimed public-health benefit. He understood that citizens had an often 
unconscious trust in medical authority. You can get practically any idea 
accepted, Bernays told me, chuckling. If doctors are in favor, the public is 
willing to accept it, because a doctor is an authority to most people, 
regardless of how much he knows, or doesnt know. ... By the law of 
averages, you can usually find an individual in any field who will be 
willing to accept new ideas, and the new ideas then infiltrate the others who 
haven t accepted it. 

In 1913, for example, Bernays played on medical and liberal sympathies 
to boost ticket sales of a Broadway play he had helped to produce. The play, 
Damaged Goods, dealt with the then-controversial subject of venereal 
disease. Bernays circumvented potential censorship, he said, by creating a 
politically diverse Sociological Committee of doctors and prominent New 
York citizens to extol the health benefits of sex education and endorse the 
new play. This committee, which included John D. Rockefeller and a 
founder of the ACLU, turned Damaged Goods into a Broadway hit. By 
publicizing the purported health benefits of certain products, Bernays 
similarly increased sales of bananas for the United Fruit Company, bacon 
for the Beechnut Packing Company, and Crisco cooking oil for Procter and 


In his 1928 book, Propaganda, Bernays explained his technique more 
formally. He noted "the psychological relationship of dependence of men 
on their physicians and other such opinion leaders in society. Those who 
manipulate this unseen mechanism of society, he wrote, constitute an 
invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country . . . our 
minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men 
we have never heard of.'" 

Before World War II, the diminutive media wizard had been a PR 
adviser to Alcoa. He operated from the same office building, One Wall 
Street, where the Alcoa lawyer Oscar Ewing had also worked. In 1950 
Ewing had been the top government official to sign off on the endorsement 
of water fluoridation, as Federal Security Administrator in charge of the 
US Public Health Service. 

"Do you recall working with Oscar Ewing on fluoridation?" I asked 
Bernays. "Yes," he replied. 

Pressed about his relationship with Ewing, Bernays shifted 
uncomfortably. A memory that had been crystal clear seconds earlier 
suddenly clouded. I had the same relationship that I had to other clients, I 
treated them the way a lawyer treats a client or a doctor treats a client. We 
had discussion of the problem at hand and how to meet them. I don't 
remember him very well," he insisted. Bernays glanced furtively at me: 
Obviously I did nothing without their approval, in advance. 

Bernays s personal papers detail his involvement in one of the nation's 
earliest and biggest water fluoridation battles, which took place in New 
York City. It was a key moment. The fight for fluoride was in full swing 
around the country, with referenda and public opinion running mostly in 
favor of the antifluoridationists. Both camps understood the importance of 
winning in New York. A victory for fluoride in the liberal media 
metropolis would give fluoride promoters a big boost elsewhere, according 
to Bernays. If New York accepts an idea, the other states will accept the 
idea too," he explained to me. 

In one corner of the ring was a vigorous popular movement opposing 
fluoridation. The protesters were backed by leading doctors, such as Dr. 
Simon Beisler, a former president of the American Urological Association; 
Dr. Fred Squier Dunn of the Lenox Hill 


Hospital; radiologist Frederick Exner; and Dr. George Waldbott. I n 
the other corner was New York Citys Health Department, led by 
Commissioner Dr. Leona Baumgartner. She was supported by the big 
guns of the nations health establishment, including Louis Dublin, 
formerly of the Metropolitan Life insurance company; Robert Kehoe 
of the Kettering Laboratory; Detlev Bronk of the Rockefeller 
Foundation; Nicholas C. Leone of the Public Health Service; and 
Herman Hilleboe, New York States Health Commissioner. 

During the campaign Bernays secretly advised Health Com- 
missioner Baumgartner on how to sell fluoride to the voters. All this 
intrigues me no end, he told Dr. Baumgartner in a December 8, 1960, 
letter discussing fluoridation, because it presents challenging 
situations deeply related to the public's interest which may be solved 
by the engineering of consent.'" ("The Engineering of Consent was a 
well-known Bernays essay on techniques of media manipulation and 
public relations.) 

Bernays advised the Health Commissioner to write TV network 
bosses David Sarnoff at NBC and William Paley at CBS, telling them 
that debating fluoridation is like presenting two sides for 
anti-Catholicism or anti-Semitism and therefore not in the public 
interest. ' She should approach the TV executives gingerly, he warned, 
without necessarily asking them to act in any specific way, but rather 
generically. . . . This might lead to a revision of the whole policy of 
what shall and shall not be considered controversial. 

Other media strategies included mailing innocuous-sounding 
letters to influential editors, explaining what fluoridation entailed. We 
would put out the definition first to the editors of important 
newspapers," Bernays said. "Then we would send a letter to publishers 
of dictionaries and encyclopedias. After six or eight months we would 
find the word fluoridation was published and defined in dictionaries 
and encyclopedias. 

During the battle for New Yorkers hearts and minds the citys 
Health Department received support from an influential profluoride 
citizens committee — purporting to be interested in fluoride for 
public -health reasons. The titular head of the Committee to Protect 
Our Children s Teeth was the famous pediatrician Benjamin Spock. 
Also lending their names to the Committee s effort was a long list of 
celebrities, liberals, and notables including Mrs. Franklin 


D. Roosevelt, baseball great Jackie Robinson, and trade union leader A. 
Philip Randolph. A lavish booklet called Our Children's Teeth was 
published by the Committee and distributed around the country. It was a 
compendium of reassurances of fluorides safety and denunciations of 
critics. Safety problems were "nonexistent," wrote Dr. Robert Kehoe from 
the Kettering Laboratory, while Dr. Hilleboe tarred opponents as food 
faddists, cultists, chiropractors and misguided and misinformed persons 
who are ignorant of the scientific facts involved. 

Sold to New Yorkers as a public-health initiative, the Committee to 
Protect Our Children's Teeth had powerful links to the U.S. 
military-industrial complex, and to the efforts of big industrial corporations 
to escape liability for fluoride pollution. In 1956, for example, the 
Committees booklet Our Children's Teeth was hot off the press. Before 
most New York parents had an opportunity to read about fluorides wonders, 
lawyers for the Reynolds aluminum company submitted the booklet to a 
federal appeals court in Portland, Oregon, where the company had been 
found guilty of injuring the health of a local farming family through 
fluoride pollution (see chapter 13). 

Inside the booklet, the judges were told, "are to be found the statements 
of one medical and scientific expert after another, all to the effect that 
fluorides in low concentrations (such as are present around aluminum and 
other industrial plants) present no hazard to man." (Today such a pseudo 
grass-roots effort would be known as an "astroturf" organization because 
of its fake popular character and essentially corporate roots.) 

The committee was funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and its 
goals were to break the political logjam in New York and to help topple 
dominoes across the country, according to the committee's program 
director, Henry Urrows. 10 "That was the working assumption — our 
justification as far as the Kellogg people were concerned — and it turned out 
that was quite correct because we broke the back of the anti-fluoridation 
movement by winning in New York and Chicago," Urrows told me. 

Although the Committee s expert composition and broad social 
representation was a classic Bernays-style propaganda technique, Urrows 
denied that the campaign had anything to do with Bernays, 

whom he dismissed in clipped, Harvard tones of barely concealed 
repugnance: He was a man who would take credit for anything that would 
reflect credit on him. He was a professional liar. (Urrows may not have 
known what Bernays was doing, but Bernays kept tabs on Urrows. 
Correspondence from Urrows to Health Commissioner Leona 
Baumgartner is found in the Bernays archive.) 

More evidence of the Committees ties to industry can be seen in its 
staffing and endorsements. General counsel to the committee was Ford 
Foundation trustee and leading corporate attorney, Bethuel M. Webster. He 
had been a wartime associate of Harvard president James Conant and of 
Vannevar Bush, the two leading science bureaucrats who had shepherded 
the early development of the atomic bomb." And the booklet includes 
statements from eight DuPont scientists; three scientists from the nuclear 
complex at Oak Ridge; a doctor from the Army Chemical Center in 
Maryland; the president of Union Carbide; the former supervisor of 
uranium hexafluoride production at Harshaw Chemical; the former director 
of the AECs Division of Biology and Medicine; Shields Warren, a member 
of the AEC s Medical Advisory Committee; Detlev Bronk; and Dr. Herbert 
Stokinger, who had performed many of the Manhattan Projects fluorine 
toxicity studies for Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester. 12 

According to Urrows, it was "a coincidence" that so many scientists 
listed in the booklet were associated with the atomic-weapons industry. 
Fluorides use in industry was "pervasive," he said. It was therefore 
unnecessary to list all those various industrial applications in a dental 
publication, he added. Urrows knew that Dr. Shields Warren, for example, 
had been associated with the AEC and that the nuclear industry had an 
interest in fluoride, but he bristled at any suggestion that his committee 
misled the public by not informing them of fluorides military uses. "I think 
what you are doing is injecting a suspicion as though there were a 
self-interest beyond the public interest. And I think that you are mistaken," 
Urrows said. 

It was not until 1965 that fluoride finally began spilling from New York 
City faucets. Foes complained bitterly that, while city residents were given 
a referendum on off -track betting, the fluoride vote had been turned over to 
the five-man Board of Estimate. An exclusive cocktail party corralling 
New York's political leaders at the home 


of Mary and Albert Lasker had launched the final push for fluoride that 
summer, according to National Fluoridation News. Mary Lasker was a 
member of the Committee to Protect our Children s Teeth and a prominent 
public health advocate. Her husband was a wealthy advertising executive, 
whose money came in part from pushing Lucky Strike cigarettes with 
Edward Bernays for the American Tobacco Company. 13 Guests at the 
Lasker party on July 25 included Mayor Robert Wagner, members of the 
Board of Estimate, twelve out of twenty-five members of the City Council, 
and Brooklyn s borough president Abe Stark. 

This government by cocktails is really unique, commented a press 
release from the antifluoride Association for the Protection of our Water 
Supply. Here is a private one-sided hearing on a most controversial subject, 
in a meeting by officials in an ex cathedra session. Where does it leave the 
masses of citizens opposed to fluorida-tion? Will they have to pool their 
meager resources and invite the city fathers to an inexpensive bar to hear 
their story? 

The Committee to Protect Our Children s Teeth had accomplished its 
broader national mission, said Urrows. 14 "At the time we began work, there 
may have been — Im guessing now — 5 percent of the public water supplies 
[in the United States] being fluoridated, at the time we went out of business 
we had about two-thirds," Urrows added. 

The father of public relations helped the U.S. Public Health Service to 
sell fluoride too, it seems. On Valentines Day of 1961, assistant surgeon 
general and chief dental officer for the Public Health Service, Dr. John 
Knutson, wrote to Bernays in New York. Knutson asked Bernays to pay a 
visit to his office to discuss new approaches to the promotion of water 
fluoridation. The letter is on government stationery. Bernays answered by 
return mail, announc ing that he expected to be in Washington shortly to 
see some of my friends in Government and when the date is set I will make 
it a point to clear with you for an appointment. ,s 

The federal public-relations effort grew in strength during the 1950s and 
1960s. From the beginning the scale of the taxpayer-funded propaganda 
was driven by the strength of public opposition to fluoridation and had as 
its hallmark disrespect for open debate and a democratic vote.' 


Big Brother watched. The Public Health Service, the American Dental 
Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Water 
Works Association all operated semicovert investigative offices, 
compiling McCarthyite dossiers on antifluo-ride medical professionals and 
sending often second-hand and derogatory information to profluoride 
groups.' The government agency for perpetuating such smear campaigns, 
which serves as the CIA and the USIA of the pro-fluoridationists 
according to Science magazine, was a taxpayer-funded outfit inside the 
NIH, the National Fluoridation Information Service of the Division of 
Dental Health of the U.S. Public Health Service. The spying unit, remarked 
Science, makes it its business to know who stands where in the 
fluoridation controversy." 18 

Medical professionals critical of fluoride were regularly mauled in 
the press, while doctors and dentists were expelled from their profes 
sional organizations for antifluoride heresy.' 9 At least one researcher, 
Dr. Reuben Feltman, who had found that fluoride supplements 
produce harmful side effects in pregnant women, had his federal 
funding withdrawn. 20 And the leading fluoride critic, Dr. George 
Waldbott from Michigan, soon found himself in the cross hairs of 
fluoride propagandists. 21 In 1988 Chemical and Engineering News 
reviewed the damage that had been done to Waldbott's scientific 
standing as a result of such attacks. Rather than deal scientifically 
with his work, wrote Bette Hileman, ADA mounted a campaign of 
criticism based largely on a letter from a West German health officer, 
Heinrich Hornung. The letter made a number of untrue statements, 
including an allegation that Waldbott obtained his information on 
patients' reactions to fluoride solely from the use of questionnaires. 
ADA later published Waldbott's response to this letter. But the widely 
disseminated original news release was not altered or corrected, and 
continued to be published in many places. As late as 1985, it was still 
being quoted. Once political attacks effectively portrayed him as 
"anti-fluoridation', Waldbott's work was largely ignored by physicians 
and scientists." 


Journalists, too, were seized by the Zeitgeist. In the summer of 1956 the 
writer Donald McNeil served as cover for the AMAs Bureau of 
Investigation in a failed bid to smear a leading antifluoride scientist. 
Although he would later write propaganda pamphlets for the ADA, 


McNeil was then preparing what was regarded as an objective book on 
fluoride; he would become perhaps the leading media observer of the 
nationwide debate over fluoride. On July 2, 1956, McNeil wrote to the 
distinguished radiologist Frederick B. Exner in Seattle, Wash ington, 
requesting reprints of Exner s critical paper Fluoridation. McNeil wrote 
under a pseudonym, explaining he was an antifluoride activist planning a 
"door-to-door" campaign in Wisconsin and asking if Exner could give him 
some idea on the price of reprints. 

Secretly McNeil was responding to a personal request from the AMA's 
chief gumshoe, Oliver Field, to obtain information in order to show "that 
people are profiting" from the sale of antifluoride literature. (Dr. Exner had 
no idea of the subterfuge. He duly charged McNeil a.k.a. "Don Marriott" a 
dollar for a single copy, a rate that fell on a sliding scale to 55 cents per 
hundred.) 23 

Scientists with an eye for a successful career read the tea leaves closely. 
A river of federal dollars from the newly flush National Institutes of Health 
was cascading into research laboratories and college campuses around the 
nation, profoundly shaping the nations scientific research priorities. While 
millions of these taxpayer dollars were spent promoting fluoridation, little 
money was given to study the potentially harmful effects from fluoride. 
Instead, the PHS spent lavishly during the cold war, producing profluoride 
films and public exhibits, as well as funding pseudoscholarly works. 

An example of these expenditures was the 1963 booklet, The Role of 
Fluoride in Public Health, produced by the Kettering Laboratory and funded 
by the PHS. The Kettering Laboratory was simultaneously being funded by 
several of the biggest fluoride-polluting industries in the United States. The 
booklet's censorship of details and the Laboratory's interest in proving 
fluoride safe in low doses can be seen in its near-complete omission of 
scientists and articles critical of fluoride — and in the tract's propagandistic 
subtitle, "The Soundness of Fluoridation of Communal Water 
Supplies. 24 

The American Dental Association — funded in part by millions of dollars 
in taxpayer grants from the Public Health Service — joined the propaganda 
campaign, releasing a torrent of movies, slides, booklets, and exhibits, even 
suggesting scripts for radio programs. 25 One such script — with fake 
dialogue for doctors, dentists, and a " member" of the Parent Teacher's 
Association — dealt with the issue 


of dental fluorosis with Orwellian doubletalk, stating that Fluoridated 
water gives the teeth an added sparkle.' 

A 1952 ADA pamphlet also advised against democracy. At no time 
should the dentist be placed in the position of defending himself, his 
profession, or the fluoridation process, stated the leaflet How to 
Obtain Fluoridation for Your Community Through a Citizens 
Committee. Fluoridation "should not be submitted to the voters, who 
cannot possibly sift through and comprehend the scientific evidence, 
the pamphlet advised. 

Yet the scale of the public-relations campaign mounted on behalf of 
water fluoridation appears to have startled even the ADA. In August 
1952, for example, a blizzard of identical news stories appeared in 
papers around the country. They all praised fluoride for reducing 
dental cavities in Newburgh, New York. Curiously, they all did so in 
exactly the same language. Who in hell is feeding newspapers canned 
pro-fluoridation arguments????????" asks a note found by the 
historian Donald McNeil in the archives of the American Dental 
Association.' Two clippings, EXACTLY ALIKE, starting with Every 
time we hear a piece of news like the following from one part of the 
country we are surprised, and a little dismayed, that we don't get the 
same news from lots of other places.' Then tells of Newburgh's 47 
percent reduction in decay" [emphasis in original]. The mystified 
author then lists several newspapers in Washington, Idaho, Missouri, 
Iowa, Arkansas, and South Dakota where the promotional story had 


Showdown in the West 

Martin vs. Reynolds Metals 

PAUL MARTIN SHUDDERED. Amomentearlierhehadreached out to 
examine one of his Hereford cattle, and the animals elegant curving horn 
had broken off in his hand. Startled, the rancher looked more closely. The 
once strong animal had grown skinny and was limping; its coat was 
matted and its teeth badly mottled. Martin had recently posted a reward in 
the local newspapers after several of his cattle had gone missing. Then, 
when he had found his first dead cow, he speculated that someone was 
shooting and rustling his herd. 

Martin looked up to the horizon, past the wild flowering blackberry 
bushes that garlanded his property. His cattle had continued to die. And 
now his family was sick. His young daughter, Paula, complained of 
soreness when she walked. Her ankles clicked, she said. All three of the 
family had pains in their bones, serious digestive problems, bleeding gums, 
a fearful anxiety that kept them awake at night, and a strange asthmalike 

The tall rancher realized that the problem was not rustlers. Martin had 
been in perfect health in December 1946 when he moved into his beautiful 
new home on the Troutdale ranch. It was a spectacular property, 1500 
acres of rich pasture nestled beneath the mighty Columbia River George, 
through which the greatest of the western rivers departed the Rocky 
Mountains. Looking back, however, Martin realized that his health had 
begun to falter in the months 


after the move to Troutdale. As he walked home to the farmhouse for 
a lunch of farm-grown fresh vegetables, he slowly nodded. He stared 
through a farmhouse window, lost in thought. 

The window had become badly etched. 

In the distance, bordering his property, lay the giant Reynolds 
Metals aluminum plant. At night, as Martin lay awake, the factory was 
bathed in electric light, pouring black smoke into the starry Oregon 
sky. Paul Martin now believed that poison from the Reynolds factory 
was, somehow, killing his cattle, scarring his property, and poisoning 
his family. 

Paul and Verla Martin's lawsuit against Reynolds Metals in August and 
September 1955 in Portland, Oregon, was one of the most exhilarating and 
significant courtroom clashes in modern American history. It was a 
David-and-Goliath battle: a solitary American farmer standing his ground 
against the combined legal and financial might of several of the nation s 
top industrial corporations. The drama in Judge East's district courtroom 
was captivating. For three weeks a jury listened as several of the world's 
top scientists, who had come from London, Chicago, and Cincinnati, 
slugged it out with conflicting medical testimonies, defending themselves 
against raking volleys of legal cross examinations. A surprise witness 
materialized, a top scientist perjured himself, and a pair of 
Harvard-trained medical experts gave devastating explanations of the 
health problems the Martin family had endured on their Troutdale Ranch. 

"This court makes history," stated the leading medical witness for 
the Martins, Dr. Donald Hunter. 

This is a case of great national importance, proclaimed the Reynolds 
Metals attorney Frederic A. Yerke Jr., adding that it was "the first case in 
the history of the country in which an aluminum company has been alleged 
to have caused injuries to a human being through the emission of fluorine 
compounds from its plant.' 

The Martin case stunned corporate America. Until then, no U. S. court 
had ever ruled that industrial fluoride emissions had caused harm to 
humans. Such a precedent would open the door to future lawsuits and even 
jeopardize the nation's war-making ability, industry claimed. Reynolds 
Metals was joined in court by six aluminum and chemical companies, 
including Monsanto and 


Alcoa, which filed a "friends of the court brief during the appeals process, 
pleading that a victory for Martin would drive a stake through the heart of 
the modern industrial economy by rendering it unprofitable to conduct 
such enterprises near places of human habitation. ' Their expert medical 
witness was none other than Dr. Robert Kehoe, Director of the Kettering 
Laboratory. He arrived in Portland early and would spend two weeks at the 
trial, coaching the company lawyers. 

Martins attorneys played their cards masterfully. They flew in England s 
top medical specialist in industrial diseases, Dr. Donald Hunter, to be their 
expert witness, thus catching Reynolds off guard. Hunters expert 
credentials matched anything the industry men could offer. The senior 
physician of the London Hospital, Hunter had written a book on industrial 
poisons, studied fluoride pollution at an aluminum plant in Scotland, and 
researched the toxic effects of lead at Harvard Medical School' 

When Dr. Hunter rose to testify in late August 1955, he explained to 
Judge Easts court that he had flown directly from Africa to London and 
then to Portland for the trial. Hunters testimony marked the end of an even 
longer journey for the rancher, Paul Martin. His family s mysterious 
sickness had taken them to some sixteen doctors across the United 
States — in Chicago, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and New York — where they 
were confronted with baffled medical professionals in a seemingly endless 
search to find out what was hurting them. Finally Hunter and a leading 
Chicago specialist, Dr. Richard Capps, had recognized that the Martins 
symptoms were classic symptoms of what Hunter now described to the 
jury as " subacute" fluorosis.' 

Hunter was a member of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians in 
England. The Portland jurors probably smiled as he explained to Judge 
East that the Royal College had been created by King Henry VIII in the 
year of 1518. 1 think that is 330 years before the state of Oregon began . . . 
in this office one has to wear a gown which was devised by Henry VIII. ' 

Hunter told the jury that fluoride had killed Martins cows and injured 
the family Fluorine compounds are deadly poisons to mammalian tissues, 
and man is a mammal just as much as a cow or a sheep, he explained.' 
Fluoride was so dangerous, Hunter explained, 


because it was an enzyme poison." He described research done by 
English poison gas specialists that had illustrated how fluorine could 
disrupt cell biology. So lethal were certain fluoride compounds, Dr. 
Hunter added, that Hitler had used them in World War II to poison 
generals he wanted to get rid of: He simply had a banquet, and he 
ordered men to take the paper off the champagne cork, and he injected 
fluorides [into the champagne]. ' 

This was too much for the Reynolds lawyer, Frederic Yerke, who 
interrupted Hunters testimony: Object to this, your Honor. I move to 
strike this as not being competent, relevant or material. 

Judge East agreed that it was "a bit dramatic" and urged the Eng 
lish doctor to move on. But Hunter was serious. He told the jury that 
the Martin family had been poisoned by a chemical so aggressive that 
it attacked the biological fabric of life itself. Enzymes are the 
chemical substances which help the body to work, Hunter explained. 
For example, if we go to lunch and we eat a steak, we have in the 
stomach pepsin, which is an enzyme. It digests the steak, and therefore 
we are properly nourished . . . modern chemistry shows that enzymes 
also exist in individual cells, and as everybody knows the human body 
is made up of masses of cells: cells of the liver, cells of the kidney, 
cells of the muscles. By hunting enzymes, fluorine compounds were 
the natural enemies of humanity, the doctor explained: The enzymes 
in the cells help the cell to nourish itself and to keep ticking over, 
which is the process of life. Now, fluorine compounds are such deadly 
poisons that they go directly for that property of the cell, and they 
destroy the enzyme process." ( Although Dr. Hunter had no way of 
knowing it, because Harold Hodge never published the data, in 1944 
the Manhattan Project at the University of Rochester had explored 
using a liver enzyme, esterase, as an ultrasensitive detector for fluorine 
in the workplace. Liver problems, of course, were a cardinal complaint 
of the Martin family.)' 

George Meade, Martins lead attorney, then held up Exhibit 0-1 
for the jury. It was the etched window glass from the Martin ranch. 
The lawyer told the jury that each day several thousand pounds of 
fluorides had escaped from the Reynolds plant, by the company s own 
admission. In March 1950, for example, shortly before the Mar -tins 
abandoned their farm, the plant was belching 3,988 pounds of 


fluoride into the air every day.' Could these fluorides have etched the 
Martin window glass, Mead asked Dr. Hunter in front of the jury? And if 
they etched the glass, was that proof that Reynolds fluoride had hurt the 

Hunter testified that he had seen exactly the same thing in England after 
the war, where a window was etched with fluoride and a nearby farming 
family had been hurt. "This is precisely the etched glass window that I saw 
in Lincolnshire on an ironworks in England, when in 1946, a family like 
the Martins was overcome with the same symptoms as the Martins," said 
Hunter. "The effluent was the same thing, hydrogen fluoride and cryolite 
dust, aluminum fluoride and even silico fluoride which are probably the 
worse [sic] of the lot." 10 Dr. Hunter concluded: "It is my opinion that all 
three of the Martin family suffer from subacute fluorosis. " 

A second doctor also diagnosed the Martins with "subacute" fluo-rosis. 
Dr. Richard B. Capps of Northwestern University in Chicago was perhaps 
America's leading specialist on the liver. He too had trained at Harvard and 
had battled an epidemic of liver jaundice that had plagued U.S. soldiers in 
Italy during World War II. Dr. Capps testified that medical tests revealed 
that the livers of both Paul Martin and his daughter Paula were abnormal. 
He described the Martins' "bizarre" health symptoms — breathing 
difficulties, stomach problems, bone pain, excess urination, and 
anxiety — as having been precisely described in the medical literature by 
the Danish scientist Kaj Roholm. 

Paula had been ten years old when the family moved to the ranch. Her 
health quickly disintegrated. She told the court that when she urinated, "I 
would be scalded and burned and would have to use Noxema or cream 
medicines on myself." She was always "short of breath," she added, and 
unwilling to play sports with other children in the Troutdale High School. 
Her mother stayed awake at night massaging her painful feet. 

Dr. Capps said that the discomfort and "clicking" in Paula's ankles was 
likely to be caused by fluoride attacking her tendons and bones. The 
chemical also caused her exhaustion and enlarged thyroid, he explained to 
the jury. "Fluorine tends to substitute for iodine in such a way that a person 
who is exposed to fluorine becomes deficient in iodine, and deficiency in 
iodine causes a certain type of 


enlargement of the thyroid which is frequently associated with a low 
metabolism, a deficiency in thyroid function.' 

The spectacle of decomposing cattle strewn across the Martins 
land, and of a glass window scarred by poisonous gases, had left an 
indelible impression on the Chicago doctor. "I think that if there is 
enough fluorine to etch a window, it should be able to etch a lung," 
Capps told the jury. 

Then Capps noted that all three of the Martins had become health 
ier when they fled the ranch in 1950 and stopped eating the farm's 
contaminated produce. Their liver tests improved. Their breathing 
grew stronger, and the fluorine levels in Paul Martin's urine declined. 
Capps concluded that there was only one medical explanation 
possible for what had happened on the Troutdale farm: You are 
forced to make the diagnosis of poisoning with fluorine, he said." 

The star defense witness, Dr. Robert Kehoe, now took the stand. 
The Reynolds lawyer lobbed a careful Softball for the Kettering 
medical director. Are you aware, attorney Frederic Yerke queried 
him, of any incident or instance based upon your own experience, 
Doctor, where a man working with fluorides has become disabled by 
reason of the fact that he has absorbed more than an ordinary amount 
of the same?" If aluminum workers in wartime factories — which 
frequently had no pollution controls — had not been sickened by 
fluoride, went the logic of Yerke's questioning, how could the Martins, 
who merely lived near a plant, possibly have been injured by smaller 
amounts of the chemical? 

In my experience, no, Kehoe told the jury. I have not. 

It was a lie worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Just seven years earlier, in 
the summer of 1948, Kehoe's investigators from the Kettering 
Laboratory had found 120 cases of bone fluorosis in aluminum 
workers at Alcoa's plant in Massena, New York. His scientists told 
Alcoa that thirty-three of the workers were "severe" cases and showed 
"evidences of disability ranging in estimated degree up to 100 
percent. (The Kettering Laboratory s Edward Largent had also found 
twisted bones and "fluorine intoxication" in workers at the 
Pennsylvania Salt Company during the late 194os — although his 
published study had claimed the men suffered no disability.)" The 
Kettering Laboratory had worked to refute Kaj Roholms research, 
arguing that even when fluoride was visible in X-rays of workers 


bones, the men bent and hobbling, the medical effect was more likely the 
result of hard work, not fluoride. The damaging data from Alcoa and 
Pennsylvania Salt were never published by Ketter-ing or made public in 
any way. Both corporations, of course, were funding Kettering's fluoride 

Kehoe dismissed the significance of the etched glass in the Martin 
farmhouse. Human lungs were made of sterner stuff, he insisted. Although 
thousands of pounds of highly toxic fluoride gases and dust had spilled 
each day for years from the Reynolds plant, felling Martin's cattle, mostly 
the wind blew away from the farmhouse and, anyway, Kehoe argued, 
"Glass ... is much more subject to injury than the human lung. 17 Living in 
the shadow of the giant Reynolds Troutdale plant was "an entirely harmless 
situation for human beings," he concluded. 

But Hunter and Capps carried the day. On September 16, 1955, the 
Portland jury decided in favor of the Martins. They awarded the family 
$48,000 for illness and for medical expenses. 

In corporate boardrooms across America the language now grew 
apocalyptic. The Martin verdict was a precedent that could cost industry 
billions. Six weeks later, at a private gathering of top industry officials at 
the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, Alcoa's medical director, Dudley 
Irwin, told corporate air pollution experts that the Martin ruling was 
"significant ... since it is the first one where the plaintiffs allege damage to 
their health from the everyday emission of an air pollutant." 19 

Reynolds fought the verdict with the desperation of a drowning man. 
The Appeals Court risked catastrophe for the U.S. economy if it let the 
Martin ruling stand, Reynolds lawyers claimed, invoking cold-war fears. 
"Aluminum is vital to our national security, and it is a metal of rapidly 
increasing importance to the entire economy, the brief began. "A court 
should be loath to adopt principles of law which would, in effect, make 
every aluminum plant liable for the unexplained miscellaneous ailments of 
the population for miles around." And there was the warning: "There is no 
practical alternative to release of fluorides except cessation 
of production altogether." 20 

The aluminum company summarized the medical evidence that justified 
overturning the guilty verdict. Edward Largents human experiments at the 
Kettering Laboratory showed that fluoride was 


safe in moderate doses, the company asserted. Without mentioning that 
it had helped to pay for the research, Reynolds argued that, because the 
Kettering scientist had eaten so much fluoride himself, it therefore 
proved the harmlessness of the Martins exposure. After ingesting 
some 3,000-4,000 milligrams of fluorine over four years, Mr. Largent 
had experienced none of the Martins symptoms or any other 
symptoms, claimed Reynolds' 

And, perhaps for the first time in an American courtroom, the Fluorine 
Lawyers unveiled a brand new strategy, pointing to the fed eral 
government's endorsement of the safety of water fluoridation — and the fad 
for adding fluoride to toothpaste — as evidence that industrial fluoride 
pollution could not possibly have been responsible for the alleged injury. 

Fluorine Lawyers and 
Government Dentists 

"A Very Worthwhile Contribution" 

Although big corporations have long used the U.S. government's 
medical assurances about fluoride safety to defend themselves in 
fluoride-pollution cases, no collaboration between industry and the 
federal promotion of fluoride has ever been acknowledged. However, 
Robert Kehoe s papers show precisely such collusion, detailing how the 
fluoride research of the National Institute of Dental Research, ostensibly 
conducted to prove water fluoridation "safe," was covertly performed in 
concert with industry, which was aware that the medical data would help 
their Fluorine Lawyers battle American pollution victims and workers in 

THE REYNOLDS METALS Company employed a legal strategy 
during the Martin case that would become a staple in American 
courtrooms. Five years had elapsed since the Federal Security Agency 
administrator, Oscar Ewing, the former Alcoa lawyer, had endorsed 
public water fluoridation on behalf of the Public Health Service, which 
was under the FSA's jurisdiction. During the 1955 Martin trial in Portland, 
Reynolds reminded the court of fluoride's "beneficial" effects. 
Fluoride was being added to toothpaste, and 15,000,000 Americans 
now consumed more fluoride through their drinking water than the 
Martins had been exposed to, Reynolds's attorneys said. "This court has 
thus found to be "poisonous' an amount of fluorine 


which scientific and judicial opinion has unanimously found harmless, 
Reynolds s lawyers argued. The only thing not explained is how the 
Martins could have suffered injury from something harmless to the rest of 
mankind," they added) 

Robert Kehoe also understood how public water fluoridation helped 
industry. His endorsement was featured in the profluorida-tion booklet, 
Our Children's Teeth. That booklet was simultaneously distributed to New 
York parents and to the judges on the Martin Appeals Court.' "The question 
of the public safety of fluoridation is non-existent from the viewpoint of 
medical science," he assured parents and judges alike.' 

Privately, however, Kehoe was not so sure. "It is possible that cer tain 
insidious and now unknown effects are induced by the absorption of 
fluorides in comparatively small amounts over long periods of time," he 
had told industry in 1956. 4 And in 1962 Kehoe told Reynolds s medical 
director, James McMillan, that there remained "a basic question 
concerning the non-specific effects of prolonged exposure to apparently 
harmless quantities of fluoride ( this by the way is the thing on which 
George Waldbott bases his entire campaign against fluoridation). 5 

Kehoe and his Kettering Laboratory continued to soldier for water 
fluoridation during the 1950s and 1960s, assailing fluorida-tion critics as 
windbags and windmills. Kettering toxicologists Francis Heyroth and 
Edward Largent were prominent members of National Academy of 
Sciences panels that endorsed fluoridation. And in 1963 the Kettering 
Laboratory published an influential bibliography of the medical literature 
favoring fluoridation, entitled The Role of Fluoride in Public Health: The 
Soundness of Fluoridation in Communal Water Supplies. 

Kehoe saw how fluoride safety studies performed by government dental 
researchers helped his industry patrons in court. Farmers and workers 
would have a much harder time successfully suing corporations for 
fluoride pollution if the U.S. Public Health Service had performed its own 
studies and then vouched for the chemical's safety. "The results of such 
[dental] investigations are highly advanta geous," Kehoe explained to the 
corporations sponsoring his fluoride work at Kettering, in that the 
problem [of proving fluoride safe] exists outside of industry, 
thereby involving situations in which the 


economic factors tend to be of different type and significance than those 
which are often alleged to be active in the industrial world, and often 
involving investigators who are not subject to accusations of bias based on 
industrial associations.' 

Kehoe approached the Public Health Service in April 1952 on behalf of 
the industries sponsoring his fluoride research, to ask that the health agency 
perform additional fluoride safety studies.' I was requested by the group 
[of industries], for whom I have acted as a spokesperson and chairman, in 
the consideration of this work, to approach your division of the U.S. Public 
Health Service, with the idea of determining whether or not an investigation 
of that type might not be conduced by the Service, Kehoe wrote to Dr. 
Seward Miller.' 

Government proved cooperative. The top medical investigator at the 
National Institute of Dental Research, Dr. Nicholas Leone, was especially 
helpful. In August 1955, for example, during the Martin trial, the public 
servant Dr. Leone spoke with a senior attorney for Reynolds, Tobin 
Lennon, who also was a member of the Fluorine Lawyers Committee, 
directing Lennon to a federal safety study on fluoride that Leone had 
recently concluded in Texas. 

No record could be found of anyone from this U.S. government agency 
ever helping the Martin family. 

Leone s study had examined people living in two Texas towns, where 
there were different amounts of natural fluoride in the water supply. The 
town of Bartlett had between 6 and 8 parts per million in its water, while 
nearby Cameron had 0.4 ppm. Dr. Leone had given both towns a clean bill 
of health, reporting in 1953 that no harmful significant differences were 
seen in the two populations. Although George Waldbott and others had 
vigorously attacked the study's scientific method and conclusions, the 
so-called Bartlett Cameron Study became, along with Harold Hodges 
Newburgh study, a lynch-pin of the government's case for water 
fluoridation — medical "proof" that adding fluoride to water would be 

As the Martin trial hung in the balance, the governments Dr. Leone 
burned up the long-distance telephone lines to Oregon, answering 
questions from Reynolds's attorney Lennon on the findings of the Bartlett 
Cameron study. Dr. Capps had testified on Paul Martins behalf that 
fluoride had injured his clients liver, so Reynolds s lawyer wanted 
information about fluorides effects on such soft tissues." 


Although the Bartlett Cameron study had not examined soft tissue, such 
data would soon be at hand, Leone reassured industry. New 
government-funded studies were in the pipeline. And they spelled good 
news for the Fluorine Lawyers. In the spring of 1957, as corporate America 
awaited the Martin Appeals Court verdict, Alcoa s Dr. Dudley Irwin 
traveled from Pittsburgh to the sparkling new campus of the National 
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to meet directly with Dr. Leone 
and discuss the current status of the fluoride problem." Irwin was the 
medical coordinator for the Fluorine Lawyers Committee. 

Dr. Leone laid out the plans for the new fluoride safety studies that the 
federal dental agency was then readying. The two men then discussed how 
those studies could be presented to best suit our purpose," according to a 
March 5, 1957, letter Leone sent to Irwin to thank him for his visit. In 
particular Leone gave the Alcoa doctor details of a human autopsy study 
then being conducted in Provo, Utah, in which soft tissues were being 
analyzed. Leone was serving as a consultant to the Utah study, he wrote, 
and he had personally designed the autopsy protocol.' The interests of the 
Provo group, Leone explained in his letter, relate directly to atmospheric 
pollution of fluorides and its effects on humans. As you know, it has been 
proven beyond a question of a doubt that similar conditions have an effect 
upon animals. 

Irwin paid close attention. Provo was the site of perhaps the most serious 
litigation problem then facing the Fluorine Lawyers. Since World War II, 
when a mighty steel plant had been located in the Utah County valley, near 
the city of Provo — far from any threat from Japa nese bombers — local 
farmers had been in an uproar over pollution that they claimed had 
decimated their cattle. By 1957 the Columbia-Geneva Division of U.S. 
Steel had settled 880 damage claims totaling $4,450,234 with farmers in 
Utah County. An additional 305 claims for a further $25,000,000 were 
filed against the company. 13 

Nicholas Leone s researchers, working on a PHS grant, were studying 
the soft tissues and bones of Utah County residents, he told Irwin. Inmates 
of a mental institution close by comprise the study material," he added. 

The Bethesda meeting between Alcoa s fluoride doctor and the 
government scientist went well. They made plans for a future 


rendezvous. In view of the vast amount of material soon to be avail -able 
for publication, Leone concluded in his letter to Irwin, we are all very 
enthused about a group presentation at some carefully selected meeting in 
the near future. I believe we discussed that briefly while you were here and 
I hope that you have had opportunity to give further thought to the type of 
meeting that would best suit our purpose. A one-shot presentation and 
publication in a single issue or monograph should be of more value than 
publication in a number of publications.... Again, it was a pleasure seeing 
you and I hope we have the opportunity for further discussions in the near 
future. Best personal regards. Sincerely Nicholas C. Leone, M.D. Chief, 
Medical Investigations, National Institute of Dental Research.' The 
government scientist enclosed a gift, a copy of a science-fiction novel 
called The Pallid Giant by Pierrepont B. Noyes. 

Alcoa s doctor was jubilant at the letter. The government studies would 
show no harm from fluoride, he had learned (almost certainly from Leone 
himself). Irwin immediately contacted the Fluorine Lawyers Committee 
boss, Frank Seamans in Pittsburgh, forwarding to him a copy of the letter 
he had received from the NIDRs Dr. Leone. Thrilled at the news from 
Washington, Alcoa s top doctor explained to Seamans, in a letter dated 
March 13, 1957, exactly how the nations water fluoridation program, and 
accompanying health studies, might help American industry: These 
clinical investigations pertain to basic studies of individuals residing in 
areas where the fluoride content of the drinking water varies from 0.04 ppm 
F. to 8.o ppm F. You will appreciate that this range of fluoride exposure 
brackets the range in which a number of us are interested. I have reason to 
believe the results of these investigations will show no evidence of 
deleterious effects due to fluoride absorption. The publication of these 
results will be a very worthwhile contribution," 
wrote Irwin. 15 

The obliging government dental researcher, Dr. Leone, wanted to share 
the good news — with a restricted group of industry friends, Dr. Irwin told 
Alcoa s lawyer. Dr. Leone has given me his permission to supply copies of 
this letter to you for distribution to your group of ~ fluorine lawyers' on a 
confidential basis," he wrote Seamans. 

Any jubilation in the ranks of the Fluorine Lawyers Committee, 
however, quickly turned to fresh panic. The following month, on 


April 24, 1957, Judges Denman, Pope, and Chambers of the Federal 
Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco upheld the lower 
District court ruling in the Martin trial. 'Iheir verdict was that Reynolds 
Metals was guilty of negligence and of poisoning the Martins with fluoride. 
In a gesture even more frightening for industry, Judge Denman cited a legal 
principle known as absolute liability. It meant that industry was 
responsible for resulting injury, whether accidentally caused or not. "The 
manufacturer must learn of dangers that lurk in his processes and his 
products, wrote Judge Denman in his opinion upholding the District Court. 
It was the duty of the one in the position of the defendant to know of the 
dangers incident to the aluminum reduction process," the opinion added. 16 

Frantic, industry scrambled back to the courts. The entire 9th Circuit 
Appeals court en banc (all judges on the Appeals bench, not just a 
three-person panel) now confronted a stunning spectacle, as six top U.S. 
corporations paraded before them, pleading for relief. Alcoa, Monsanto, 
Kaiser Aluminum, Harvey Aluminum, the Olin Mathieson Chemical 
Corporation, and a division of the Food Machinery and Chemical 
Corporation, each joined Reynolds in attacking the Martin verdict, filing an 
impassioned amicus curiae friends of the court brief. 

One hundred thousand workers were employed in the U.S. aluminum 
industry alone, industry told the court, while seven aluminum smelters in 
the Northwest were located in inhabited areas similar to the Troutdale plant. 
Judge Denman s ruling had impossibly tightened the screws on the 
economy and jeopardized the nations cold war military strength, the 
corporations argued. The necessity of a strong aluminum industry to 
national defense is known to all," their appeal noted. Judge Denman had 
reached out and with one swift stroke branded the aluminum industry and 
all industries involving the use of fluorides, ultrahazardous," it added. The 
industry attorneys warned of "the tremendous impact of this decision," and 
argued that "if Judge Denman's opinion placing absolute liability on these 
industries is to stand, the financial handicap so imposed may well impair 
their financial stability. ' 

As industry s lawyers scrambled back to the courts, the governments Dr. 
Nicholas Leone (from the National Institutes of Health) hurried for an 
emergency meeting with industry officials 


at the Kettering Laboratory. He was accompanied by no less than the 
Director of the National Institute of Dental Research, Dr. Francis Arnold. 

On May 20, 1957-a month after the Martin verdict — the public servants 
met for a relatively confidential discussion of the issues with Dr. Kehoe 
and a Medical Advisory Committee of officials from the industrial 
corporations sponsoring the Kettering Laboratory s fluoride research. (This 
Medical Advisory Committee had been established on behalf of the 
Fluorine Lawyers Committee by Alcoa attorney Frank Seamans.)" 

Alcoa's Dudley Irwin opened the meeting. He began by reiterating news 
of the Martin verdict. The U.S. dental investigators and the company 
officials reviewed the "weakness" of industry's position, according to notes 
taken by Dr. Kehoe. The group then discussed "the Martin case in relation 
to the community problems of air pollution, water pollution and food 
contamination and the position occupied by industry in creating a new 
environment characterized by potential hazard to the public health, 
according to Kehoe. 

Industry was vulnerable, Kehoe emphasized to the dental researchers. 
He summarized the Kettering investigation of the Alcoa plant at Massena, 
New York, where fluoride had disabled workers. (The results of this study 
had — and still have — never been published.) There was a need, Kehoe told 
the NIDR's Nicholas Leone and Francis Arnold, "for research of a basic 
type to establish the facts on which medical opinion can be based so that 
irresponsible medical testimony will be discouraged." 

The government men took their cue. Drs. Leone and Arnold again laid 
out for industry the several pending studies the NIDR was con -ducting. 
The science was ostensibly being performed to demonstrate to the 
public the safety of water fluoridation, yet for the anxious men at the 
Kettering Laboratory that spring day, there was a clear understanding that 
such medical studies could help polluters. 19 The conference concluded with 
plans for an ambitious strategy to shape the national scientific debate on 
fluoride by hosting "conferences, symposia," compiling new medical 
research "for dissemination or publication," and arranging working 
sessions "to decide what to do and in what sequence," according to Kehoe' 
s notes. 


On June 5, 1958, the full Appeals Court in the Martin case gave some 
ground. It upheld the verdict that the Martins had been poisoned and that 
Reynolds was negligent, but it withdrew the earlier opinion that the legal 
theory of absolute liability applied. The final decision was still 
distressing, the Fluorine Lawyers Committee head, Frank Seamans, 
wrote to Kehoe in a melancholy note eight days later. In an enclosed legal 
summary of the ruling, dated June 12, 1958, he concluded that the verdict 
will doubtless have great significance in the further development of the 
fluorine problem." 20 There was, however, a solitary ray of sunshine: 
perhaps the rollback of the absolute liability verdict would help industry 
in the coming decades. We can now argue that the Martin case went off 
on its own particular facts and that it is not a ruling that an aluminum 
smelter is liable for damage regardless of negligence," 
Seamans wrote. 21 

Seamans believed that it was the visit and testimony of the English 
expert, Donald Hunter, that had delivered the knockout blow. The English 
doctor had left a perhaps disfiguring scar upon corporate America. "The 
court quoted from the testimony of Dr. Hunter," Seamans wrote to Kehoe, 
"and said that his testimony was worthy of credit and, in fact, outstanding. 
These quotations from the testimony of Dr. Hunter about the effects of 
fluorine on human beings are very unfortunate and may serve to give such 
claims a push. 

Kehoe was bitter about the whole affair. "I have rarely found myself in 
a more embarrassing situation than I was in the Martin case," he told one of 
Reynolds's other witnesses. And he complained to a friend, Philip Drinker 
of Harvard s School of Public Health, about the cleverness and histrionic 
character of Donald Hunters testimony. 22 The professor commiserated. 
Hunters exhibition was cheap cockney showmanship at a pretty low 
point, Drinker said. " Numerous friends in England have told me he was 
for sale and he certainly sold himself for this," he added. 

Dr. Kehoe would have his revenge. In the days after the Martin verdict 
worried industry its officials turned again to his Kettering Laboratory for 
help. Industry stood on a precipice. The danger was clear — and so was the 
solution. A powerful new scientific orthodoxy must be forged to defeat 
workers and farmers like Paul Martin and remove the threat from 
independently minded medical experts such as Donald Hunter and 
Richard Capps. 

Buried Science, Buried Workers 

THE IMPLICATIONS OF the Martin verdict were frightening. Like that 
Oregon farming family who had been poisoned by Reyn-olds s fluoride, 
tens of thousands of U.S. citizens breathed fluoride fumes from nearby 
steel, aluminum, and coal-fired power plants. A million more would soon 
live within eight kilometers of eleven hydrogen fluoride manufacturing 
plants.' And hundreds of thousands of American men and women inhaled 
fluoride dust and gases each day at work.' 

Industry's response to the Martin verdict was explained by Robert 
Kehoe to the medical director of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TV A) in 
January 1956. You will remember our recent talk about the concern of 
representatives of the aluminum and steel companies, over the outcome of 
the Reynolds Metals suit, Kehoe wrote to Dr. O. M. Derryberry on 
January 9, 1956. That concern included "perturbation of certain of the 
sponsors over the medico-legal situation," he wrote. "A group was 
assembled for a meeting with me early in December," Kehoe told 
Derryberry, "out of which came their request that ... I advise them 
concerning a program of investigation which might be enlarged in scope 
and accelerated in tempo so as to provide them with adequate ammunition 
for handling similar situations, as well as those that might arise from 
apprehension among their employees."' Kehoe's goal was to "bring to an 
end the litigation which threatens to occupy the time, attention, and 
economy of industry without benefit to the health and welfare of their 
employees or the public," he told his sponsors.' 


By February the Kettering Laboratory director had drawn up a game 
plan, focusing on the Achilles heel that had tripped up Reynolds 
Metals in the Martin trial. The Public Health Service was providing 
medical information about the health effects of swallowing fluoride, 
via its water-fluoridation safety studies. But the Martin trial had hinged 
on the accusation that air pollution had hurt the family, and Kehoe saw 
a clear need for fresh human experiments.' 

There seems to be no documentary information on the mat-ter of 
human safety in relation to such exposure, Kehoe told the TVA's Dr. 
Derryberry. "In any case, we are about ready to initiate the 
experiments on animals, and while these are in progress, we can design 
and construct the facilities for the investigation of human subjects," he 

Kehoe pointed to another goal: creating an unassailable medical 
orthodoxy that would block scientists from serving as effective expert 
witnesses in future court cases. His laboratory s earlier efforts to control 
scientific information about fluoride had almost borne fruit in the Martin 
trial, he remarked, but the surprise appearance of the Englishman, Dr. 
Donald Hunter, had upset the apple cart. Opposing counsel overcame this 
obstacle by the importation of an expert who, with some charity, may be 
judged to have been susceptible to the thrill of participating in a grandstand 
play or, perhaps, of aiding an aggrieved family, wrote Kehoe.' 

The only solution was a fresh batch of medical experimentation and 
scientific data, so overwhelmingly persuasive, both in itself and its 
dissemination, as to render futile any efforts to combat it." The new 
Kettering research would pile negative evidence upon negative 
evidence, said Kehoe. This would result in such difficulty in finding a 
competent and credible expert witness as to thwart the attempts of 
counsel to make a case for a potential plaintiff, he added.' 

The Kettering foot soldiers were given their marching orders at a 
planning session in the fall of 1956. They were under no illusions 
about their mandate. The sponsor group is concerned with the 
litigation questions that may arise in the future as demonstrated by 
those that have occurred in the past, noted the scientists who attended 
the meeting, according to the recorded minutes. Its purpose is not 
altruistic, they added. The threat of litigation would be their North 
Star, guiding research and experiments. 


"The sponsors are interested not only in what happens to persons in the 
plant but also in whether they will be sued or not. They are interested 
particularly in finding out if the absence of deleterious effects of the 
absorption of the fluoride ion can be demonstrated, the minutes record. 
Specifically, what industry needed to learn — sixteen years into the 
fluoridation of water supplies — was the physiological effects on the 
various organ systems of the continued absorption of fluorides. The 
scientists noted that something is known about mottled enamel and 
skeletal changes but [there is] no information concerning effects on other 
organ systems.'" 

The Martin ruling had exposed the tip of a very dangerous iceberg, 
Kehoe told an invited audience of government dental researchers and 
industry lawyers, who had gathered in the Ballroom of the Cincinnati Club 
for a Fluoride Symposium in Cincinnati in December 1957. 9 The primary 
threat facing industry, Kehoe explained in his opening remarks, was that 
workers could use the Martin verdict to buttress lawsuits claiming injury 
from exposure to airborne fluoride inside factories. The problem, he went 
on, was that the court verdict had set the stage for the greater threat of 
claims for illness among employees in the industries in which exposure to 
fluoride is greater than that of any group of persons 
outside of industry." 70 

In the ballroom sat Harold Hodge from the University of Rochester and 
Alcoas Frank Seamans, head of the Fluorine Lawyers Committee. No two 
people were in a better position to know the risk from airborne fluoride 
pollution. Twenty-five thousand people worked in aluminum smelting 
plants in the United States, and tens of thousands toiled in the giant gaseous 
diffusion plants at Oak Ridge, Paducah, and Portsmouth." 

The presentations were biased in favor of industry. Frank Sea-mans 
gave a presentation titled The Medical Aspects of Fluoride Litigation. 
While the Director of the National Institute of Dental Research, Francis 
Arnold, discussed the Present Status of Dental Research in the Study of 
Fluorides, there were no criticisms of water fluoridation; nor were experts 
such as Dr. Capps from Chicago or Dr. Hunter from England (both of 
whom had testified in the Martin trial on the human health consequences of 
industrial fluoride air pollution) in attendance.' 


The papers were further culled when it came to their publication. 
Readers of the American Medical Associations journal Archives of 
Industrial Health (edited by Kehoes Harvard friend, Philip Drinker), 
never learned of the symposium remarks on fluoride litigation by 
Kehoe and Seamans. Nor did they read the paper by D. A. Greenwood 
from Utah State University, spelling out the stupendous scale of the 
fluoride lawsuits facing U.S. Steel in Utah." 

The Symposium was just one front in industry s campaign to shape 
a scientific consensus about fluoride. Another was opened that 
summer of 1957, when industry committed $179,175 to a new 
fluoride research program at the Kettering Laboratory. It was a down 
payment on a three-year investigative program that would eventually 
cost almost half a million dollars. Air pollution would be the major 
focus of the research. The centerpiece would be an experimental 
chamber from which forty-two beagle dogs would inhale fine 
particles of calcium fluoride dust, for six hours a day, five days a 
week. Alcoa s lawyer, Frank Seamans, handled the money for the new 
experiment, acting as intermediary between Kehoe, the Fluorine 
Lawyers, and the Medical Advisory Committee. 

On April 16, 1957, Seamans sent a letter to the Fluorine Lawyers, 
titled Re: Kettering Research re Human Beings." He laid out how 
much each corporation would contribute. Checks would be sent on a 
quarterly basis directly from the companies to the Kettering 
Laboratory. U.S. Steel, Alcoa, Kaiser Aluminum, Reynolds Metals, 
and Alcan paid the lion s share, each putting up $30,535 for the first 
year; Olin Revere Metals, Monsanto Chemical, West Vaco Chemi cal, 
TV A, and Tennessee Corporation made smaller commitments. 
Seamans enclosed a variety of documents. They illustrate the key role 
the Fluorine Lawyers had in shaping Ketterin gs medical research, and 
the importance industry attached to the efforts of the National Institute 
of Dental Research and other parties on behalf of public water 

Enclosures were listed by Seamans as follows: 

• Letter from Dr. Irwin under date of March 13, 1957, 
enclosing a letter from Dr. Leone of the National 
Institute of Dental Research dated March 5, 1957. 


• A publication entitled Our Children s Teeth. This is the best 
collection of material dealing with the association between 
fluorides and human beings that I have seen. 

■ Lastly, a letter which I am sending to the Medical Advisory 
Committee, in which an attempt is made to more specifically 
advise just what the lawyers group wishes them to do. 

I am sorry that it has taken so long to develop matters to this 
point. However, I am glad to say that all parties are now in 
complete agreement and that the work can now go forward. 
Very truly yours, Frank Seamans." 

The crucial inhalation experiments, in which researchers were to 
simulate ... occupational exposure to particulate fluoride, began on 
October 6, 1958. The forty-two beagles were divided equally into three 
groups: a control group that received no fluoride; a second group that 
inhaled a small dose, 3.5 mgs of calcium fluoride per cubic meter of air; 
and a group that received 35.5 mgs of calcium fluoride per cubic meter. 

Kehoe had assembled an expert team of scientists to supervise the dog 
experiment, according to Eula Bingham, who became head of the Kettering 
Laboratory in the 19705 and later served as President Jimmy Carters head 
of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They 
included Robert K. Davis, Klaus L. Stemmer, William P. Jolley, and Edwin 
E. Larson. Robert Davis was always the boss," said Bingham. "I really 
didn't have much contact with him, but he always seemed to be pretty 
substantial, she added. A pathologist, Klaus Stemmer, "was very well 
trained in what I would call the old European school of pathology. [He] 
came over from Germany after the war," said Bingham. "Larson was a very 
fine person when it came to exposure assessment, and he knew how to put a 
chamber together so that you could put a dose of whatever the contaminant 
was in there by inhalation. It was a very substantial training [Larson had], I 
tell you." The results of the 
Kettering beagle experiment were startling 

— and not at all what the scientists had predicted. It was 



that there would be little or no injury to the lungs of experimental animals, 
the report noted, and that the demonstration of the innocuous effects of the 
respiratory exposure . . . would pave the way for similar experiments with 
human subjects. 

But there could be no human experiments now: the fluoride injured 
the dogs. Autopsy revealed wounds to their lungs and lymph nodes. 
The damage had occurred in both groups of animals that were exposed 
to fluoride, with inflamed lesions on the lung surface and a fibrosis, 
or a thickening of the lungs, that was so marked in some cases that the 
researchers called it emphysema" Unexpected, the researchers said, 
"was the injurious effect exerted by calcium fluoride in the lungs and 
lymph nodes of the dogs. 16 

The corporate sponsors were quickly informed. It seems likely that we 
have produced a dust lung using calcium fluoride as the particulate, 
Kettering s scientist Albert A. Brust wrote Alcoa s Dudley Irwin in a letter 
dated February 10, 1960. The fluoride had wreaked havoc with biological 
tissue, the report explained, when the fluoride ion had attacked the lungs 
surface. The calcium fluoride had disassociated inside the lung, 
transforming the dust into a corrosive acid deep inside the body, the report 
stated. Some degree of solvent action was exerted locally, and the fluoride 
ion in the resultant solution reacted with the tissue, the report added. The 
results also showed that fluoride traveled quickly from the lung into the 
blood stream. "These data appear to confirm beyond all question the 
efficacy of pulmonary absorption of fluoride, Brust told Irwin." 

Frighteningly, long after the dogs had been removed from the 
inhalation chamber, dust particles remained lodged in their lungs. 
These particles continued to wreak havoc on the body, dissolving and 
freeing fluoride ions to mount fresh assaults on the pulmonary tissue, 
the report recorded. The results obtained in this experiment are of 
more than casual interest, especially to investigators in the fields of 
pulmonary physiology and pathology," the Ketter-ing report noted. 

The health effects of airborne fluoride should be studied in 
workers, the results suggested. They point to the desirability of 
conducting systematic investigations of the pulmonary function of 
representative groups of industrial employees who are being 


subjected to various types and intensities of exposure to particu-late, 
inorganic fluorides, the authors wrote. 

The Fluorine Lawyers understood the frightening legal and health 
implications of the study. The Kettering data pointed an arrow directly at 
the heart of key modern industrial enterprises, where the extraordinary 
incidence of emphysema in workers potentially dwarfed even the silicosis 
crisis of the 19305. 18 The steel, aluminum, phosphate, gasoline refining, 
uranium enriching, fluorocarbon, and plastics industries, to name a few, 
were especially at risk. The general counsel for the TVA, Charles 
McCarthy, wrote to Kehoe on July 9,1962, shortly after he received his 
copy of the report. Its findings were clear, he agreed: workers might be at 
risk. "The pulmonary findings suggest the need for further investigation of 
the pulmonary function of exposed workers," noted 
McCarthy. 19 

Industry's top lawyers received copies of the Kettering dog study — but 
nobody told America's workers, or their doctors. Instead, the research was 
buried. Although industry had spent almost half a million dollars on 
fluoride research at the Kettering Laboratory following the 1955 Martin 
verdict, the fate of the fluoride-breathing beagles was never made public. 
The study lay hidden for almost forty years, until, in the course of 
researching the topic, I found a copy in a basement archive of the old 
Kettering Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati. 

I sent it to the toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix and to an air-pollution 
expert at the University of California at Irvine, Dr. Robert Phalen. 20 Both 
suggested that the nonpublication of the study had hurt American workers 
and misshaped the modern debate over air pollution. Dr. Phalen had written 
a 1984 book on inhalation experiments and is also a graduate of the 
University of Rochester. He took his job studying air pollution in Southern 
California on the recommendation of none other than Harold Hodge. After 
reading the study, Phalen remarked that he was impressed at the quality of 
the forty-year-old research. 

"It was a very good study," Phalen said. "It was state of the art. I am 
amazed at how good a job they did. The scientists conclusions were blunt. 
It is likely that American workers have inhaled too much fluoride in the 
workplace for several decades, Phalen told 


me. This study is sufficiently strong to cause a reconsideration of the 
industrial standard, he said. 

That s a staggering statement. Many hundreds of thousands of women 
and men have breathed fluoride in their workplaces since the Kettering 
study was conducted. Had the threshold for unsafe exposure been set too 
loosely because the dog research was not published? Occupational 
standards for workplace exposure to chemicals in the United States are 
guided by an influential private group known as the American Conference 
of Government and Industry Hygienists (ACGIH). The group s scientists 
set what is known as a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for different 
chemicals, which is then used by regulatory agencies in setting legal 
exposure standards, Phalen explained.' 

The people who set standards in industry, said Phalen, review 
everything they can get their hands on, and then they say, What shall we 
recommend for dusty air in industry for fluoride?' for example. Phalen is 
baffled at how ACGIH could have left the nation's industrial fluoride 
standard unchanged since 1946 — if it had seen the Kettering beagle study. 
As I look at the level that is set today, 2.5 milligrams per cubic meter, it 
sure looks to me like if [ ACGIH] had access to this April 13, 1962 study, 
they would have recommended a lower level. 

Phalen was especially startled to learn that today federal regulatory 
agencies, such as the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease 
Registry (ATSDR), cannot locate any published animal stud ies on fluoride 
dust inhalation to cite for the current occupational standard. 22 "I tend to not 
be a conspiracy-type person," Phalen said, "I was surprised when they said 
there had been no studies. Why this study wasnt published, I dont know. 

Did the standard-setters have access to the Kettering data? I contacted 
Dr. Lisa Brosseau at the University of Minnesota; she heads ACGIH's 
standard-setting committee. The beagle study had not been listed as one of 
the documents ACGIH scientists had consulted in setting the current 
fluoride TLV. 23 And Dr. Brosseau did not know if past ACGIH review 
committees had seen the Ketter-ing study. However, she explained, if the 
1962 research is not listed on ACGIH s current TLV report for fluoride, 
then it had not been used in its most recent review. We will only list those 
things that 


we did use, Brosseau said. 21 "It is very possible that we didnt see it," she 

According to the toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix, the fact that the 
Kettering data were never published, or made available, is a crime against 
American workers — with profound health consequences for the rest of the 
nation. The buried data points at a clear cause-and-effect relationship 
between an industrial pollutant and an injury widely seen in factories and 
the general population, according to the scientist. That study is key, said 
Mullenix, because it directly links fluoride with emphysema. And that is 
mind-boggling in terms of public health, because no one has ever made that 

Suppressing the 1962 study was a gross dereliction of scientific 
responsibility, says Mullenix, a medical cover-up that has lulled doctors 
and federal regulators to sleep for forty years. I regard it as absolutely 
being hidden, she said. It was a good study; the results were clear. The 
memos that went along with it certainly stated that it should be followed 

Thousands of men and women are stalked by fluoride in the modern 
workplace yet blinkered to its toxic potential, according to Mullenix. In 
1998 she met former aluminum workers from Washington State whose 
health had been ruined by fluoride. These men are between thirty and fifty 
years old and have replaced knees and shoulders; they have leukemias, 
thyroid problems, and soft tissue diseases. I've never seen such a bunch of 
young pathetic people with such health problems. I just dont see the 
outrage. They are just putting them out as old men, and bringing in younger 
men, over and over again," she said. "Fluoride has impacted the work span 
of many of our workers, and this is in aluminum factories, petroleum 
companies, brick, tanneries, steel, glass, plastics, and fluorinated plastics 
manufacturers. I think that it has had a big impact on our industries that we 
are not recognizing.' 

Eating Country Ham 

PERHAPS THE FLUORIDE workers most badly treated have been the 
women and men who won the battle of the cold war, who did our dirty 
work, laboring in the satanic mills that were Americas nuclear bomb 
factories. Since 1949, an estimated 600,000 worked in 


government atomic plants, with tens of thousands more employed by 
private industrial corporations who built the bomb during the early 
years of the Manhattan Project. But while the U.S. spent an estimated 
$5.5 trillion to build nuclear weapons, we hid the health risks of 
working in those factories, denied workers additional hazardous pay, 
and then fought those very same men and women in court if they 
became injured or ill and filed for compensation. 26 

The government told these workers that they had no illnesses, 
noted Clinton-era Energy Secretary Bill Richardson. "These were 
heroes and heroines of the Cold War that built our weapons . . . and we 
turned our backs on them. 

Paducah Joe Harding was one of those workers, toiling in the 
Kentucky fluoride gaseous-diffusion plant from 1952 until 1971 — 
when he was fired, without insurance, disability, or benefits.' A voice 
in the wilderness, Harding fought to tell the world that the United 
States' nuclear-bomb plants were poisoning their workers. In 1950 one 
of the federal plutonium injectors, Dr. Joseph Hamilton, had worried 
that proposals to use U.S. prisoners in more human radiation 
experiments had a little of the Buchenwald touch. Joe Harding had a 
similar thought. In a letter written shortly before his death in 1980, and 
entered into the Congressional Record twenty years later, Harding 
wrote to the Department of Energy about the nations nuclear weapons 
program: It seems that Union Carbide Nuclear Co., all other 
Corporations that are involved, AEC, Department of Energy, Federal 
Security, FBI, Justice Department, etc, can do as they please, trample 
on the public and not be touched, Harding noted. He concluded, The 
Germans had a name for this kind of setup. They called it Nazism.' 

Harding died of cancer the same morning a Swedish TV crew 
arrived for an interview. At the end weeping sores marched across Joe 
Harding s body. He struggled to breathe. His stomach and two feet of 
his intestines had been removed. Bony outgrowths — classic symptoms 
of extreme fluoride poisoning — sprouted painfully from Harding s 
palms and joints. The Department of Energy lawyers fought Joe 
Harding until the end, at one point blaming his sickness on a 
combination of smoking cigarettes and eating country ham. 30 After 
Harding died, the government battled his widow, Clara, in court.' 

x 94 


Pressured by union groups and shamed by an ocean of tears, Congress 
finally enacted legislation in October 2000 that set up a mechanism for 
compensation of up to $150,000 per injured atomic worker." But the 
Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act largely 
sidestepped the issue of fluoride poisoning. Although a federal study of 
former bomb-program workers health found that respiratory diseases and 
mental disorders were widespread in the Oak Ridge K-25 
gaseous-diffusion plant, there was no mention of a medical link to fluoride, 
at least for the purposes of worker compensation." (Remember, the buried 
Kettering dog study had specifically linked fluoride to such serious lung 
problems, while Kaj Roholm and Harold Hodge had each suspected 
fluorides role in central-nervous-system disorders, a link confirmed in 
animals by the laboratory studies of Dr. Phyllis Mullenix at the Forsyth 
Dental Center in the early 1990s. n I am not aware of any [nuclear worker] 
cases that have successfully been compensated for fluoride exposures, said 
Dr. Ekaterina Mallevskia, a scientist at the Department of Energy-funded 
Worker Health Protection Program at Queens College in New York, which 
helps to diagnose the illness of former atomic workers. We did not pay any 
particular attention to fluoride; we are concentrating on asbestos, radiation, 
uranium, plutonium. Fluoride was good for workers, the scientist even 
suggested, unconsciously mouthing a role written for her a generation 
earlier by Harold Hodge, Robert Kehoe, and Edward Bernays. It is more 
like an insufficient supply than an overexposure. Thats why it was initially 
added to toothpaste, Mallevskia explained." 

"No one has ever asked that question" 

IT S NOT JUST workers who are getting hurt by a chemical they never 
suspected. The Kettering study on beagle dogs is very likely a smoking 
gun, linking fluoride to the extraordinary toll taken by air pollution in the 
general population, according to Phyllis Mul-lenix. Air pollution causes 
the early deaths of an estimated sixty thousand people in the United States 
each year — thats 4 percent of all U.S. deaths, and a hundred times the total 
number of deaths caused by all the other pollutants the EPA regulates." 
Thirty thousand of these deaths from air pollution are attributed to 


from electric power plants, which contain fluoride. Countless thou- 
sands of additional Americans suffer from other illnesses linked to air 
pollution, including heart attacks, lung cancer, and breathing disorders 
such as bronchitis and asthma. 37 Air pollution especially hurts children 
and inner city residents.' 

Mullenix once worked as an air-pollution consultant for industry. 
For eleven years during the 1970s and 1980s she helped the American 
Petroleum Institute (API) — the oil companies lobbying group — battle 
new federal air pollution standards. She had advised corporations such 
as Monsanto, Amoco, 3-M, Boise Cascade and Mobil Oil, jetting 
around the country, staying in fabulous hotels, all expenses paid. It 
was mind-boggling the amount of money that went into it," says 

Her specialty was ozone. In the late 1970s the EPA used the Clean 
Air Act to order a reduction in ozone levels. Industry s lawyers fought 
back, opposing the new standards and arguing that EPA had the facts 
wrong. On industry s behalf Mullenix attacked EPAs scientific 
justification for the proposed ozone policy changes, the so-called 
criteria document. It was a shoddy piece of scientific material, she 
recalls. Every time EPA came out with another criteria document, I 
would look for the errors and compare it back to the [scientific] 
literature. That is what I did for over ten years. Mullenix used her 
training as a toxicologist to fight what she saw as the EPA s inadequate 
scientific basis for its attack on ozone pollution. 

The efforts to regulate ozone had a fundamental scientific weakness, 
Mullenix remarked. Laboratory experiments with pure ozone were 
unable to replicate the many serious injuries and health effects 
associated with air pollution, she stated. Study after study, year after 
year, it was extremely difficult to link ozone with asthma, ozone with 
emphysema. It just didnt match. That is one of the reasons that I could 
work for industry. 

During her years working for industry, fluoride was never discussed, 
she told me. "At the time, I didn't know anything about fluoride," she 
added. "Never, ever was fluoride mentioned as a cause of respiratory 

Had the nonpublication of the 1962 Kettering study thrown a 
generation of scientists off the scent of a key villain, responsible, at 
least in part, for air pollution s terrible health toll? 


"This study, the dog study, I think might have at least triggered some 
investigators to look at fluorine-containing compounds as a suspect, said 
Robert Phalen, of the University of California. Instead, most experts today 
habitually ignore fluoride s role in air pollution. Whether something like 
fluoride contributes more than its share, because of an additional irritancy? 
I would say no one has ever asked that question," he added. 

It is a startling oversight, because there is a much greater quantity of 
fluoride in our air than we once knew. In 1998 the Clinton administration 
forced several key industries to report the volumes of toxic chemicals they 
were spilling into the environment. Previously the EPA had allowed 
industrial sectors, such as the electric utilities and the mining and chemical 
wholesalers, to avoid reporting that data. The updated information was 
shocking. Overnight the amount of reported toxic pollution in the United 
States soared by 300 percent. Estimate of Toxic Chemicals Is Tripled, 
headlined the New York Times. 39 

Even more dramatic was the increase in the amount of hydrogen fluoride 
gas that industry now admitted was being spilled into the nations air. 
Before the new requirements industry reported that 15 million pounds of 
HF pollution escaped into the air each year. When the additional industries 
were added, however, that figure rocketed to almost 78 million pounds, an 
increase of over 500 percent. 40 Of the almost 63 million pounds of 
additional HF, 53 million pounds (or 84 percent) came from electric power 
companies, and most of that came from the burning of coal. 

The EPA is studying how the fine particles in air pollution can cause 
human injury. Does this hydrogen fluoride gas bind with those tiny carbon 
particles in the atmosphere, contributing to the health damage seen from 
such particles? What are the synergistic health effects on humans of 
fluoride and sulfur compounds? ( Fluoride dramatically increases the 
toxicity of sulfur compounds on vegetation and animals, according to 
recent studies in Russia and work performed by the Atomic Energy 

"You have a good point," said scientist Maria Constantini from the 
Health Effects Institute (HRI), a shared project of EPA and industry to 
fund air pollution research. HRI has never funded a fluoride study, she 
said. Why is it not being measured? People 


just sometimes look for what they think is there and not for new 

HF [hydrogen fluoride] should be looked at, she added. It could 
be coating some of the particles and ... it could be more likely to go 
down into the deep lung because the particle is carried down in the 
lung. If it has properties that are toxic properties, depending on the 
dose, obviously it could be of concern. 

The befuddlement of todays air pollution experts is staggering, 
given the toll of destruction that fluoride has wrought throughout the 
twentieth century. 42 Fluoride has been the nation s most damaging air 
pollutant, and almost certainly its most expensive. From 1957 to 1968, 
fluoride was responsible for more damage claims than all twenty other 
major air pollutants combined, according to former U.S. National 
Academy of Sciences fluoride expert Edward Groth. 4, The U.S. 
Department of Agriculture reported in 1970 that " airborne fluorides 
have caused more worldwide damage to domestic animals that any 
other pollutant." 44 And in 1982, L. H. Wein-stein of Cornell 
University s Boyce Thompson Institute reported, There has been more 
litigation on alleged damage to agriculture by fluoride than all other 
pollutants combined ... of the major airborne pollutants, inorganic 
fluoride [is] clearly the most toxic, he added. 

Weinstein noted fluoride s extreme toxicity to vegetation. While 
ozone or sulfur dioxide hurt plants at a threshold level of 0.05 parts per 
million, hydrogen fluoride gas produced lesions on some plant leaves 
at concentrations of one part per billion, according to Wein-stein 46 
(That suggests fluoride can be up to 50 times more toxic than sulfur 
dioxide or ozone.) 

Despite this manifest chemical danger and extraordinary legal 
expense — or perhaps because of it — federal regulators have long 
turned their backs on fluoride air pollution. In 1957, the same year 
Judge Denman issued his devastating legal ruling of human harm in 
the Martin case, Washington abruptly terminated monitoring of 
fluoride levels in the nation s air. 47 

That decision came none too soon. Industry's hunger for fluoride 
grew more voracious in the years following the Martin trial. Hydrogen 
fluoride use alone more than tripled from 1957 through 1974, from 123 
thousand tons to 375 thousand tons. 48 By the end of 


the 196os industry was discharging 150 thousand metric tons of fluoride 
pollution directly into the nations air. 40 

There is little doubt that the federal decision to end air monitoring 
helped industry. The feared tsunami wave of fluoride litigation from 
workers and communities did not break, as industry worried it might, 
following the Martin verdict. 50 And despite several expensive lawsuits 
during the 196os, according to Keith Taylor, an attorney who represented 
industry in alleged fluoride pollution cases, "We were all comfortable. 
There were no crises. sl 

Federal aid for fluoride polluters continued. In the early 1970s the EPA 
elected not to include the chemical on a bad-boy list of so-called criteria air 
pollutants that are hazardous to human health. Chemicals such as sulfur 
dioxide, although more voluminous, yet which are only a fraction as toxic 
as the hydrogen fluoride gas in air pollution, were included on the list. 
Instead, fluoride was categorized in the new Clean Air Act as a welfare 
pollutant, blamed primarily for economic damage, such as injuring crops, 
rather than human health effects — a chemical favoritism that allowed 
individual states a permissive flexibility to set emission standards for them- 
selves, instead of adhering to one federal policy. 62 This ruling was based 
largely on a 1971 National Academy of Sciences report that concluded 
fluorides presented no direct hazard to human health. According to the 
logic of the National Academy, cattle were felled, glass was etched, and 
crops were decimated by a chemical that in similar doses failed to injure 
people. It was all a grisly farce, of course, a cruel dictate that flew, quite 
literally, in the face of the sick Americans who lived near fluoride-spewing 
industrial plants, and of the lessons learned from the Martin trial. Closer to 
the truth was the observation of top EPA air pollution expert D. F. Walters: 
fluoride was so toxic a chemical that some form of environmental damage 
was inevitable, and industries therefore needed the freedom to pollute. 
Mandating "standards stringent enough to insure complete protection 
against any welfare effects may require closure of major sources of fluoride 
emissions." 53 

The Kettering Laboratory's long-ago suppression of the dog study 
helped to perpetuate a cover-up of fluoride s potential for harm as an air 
pollutant, says Phyllis Mullenix. You have a study back in 1962 that says 
fluoride caused emphysema and there are no studies 

K.ii Eli Rohoim, pioneering Danish physician who investigated 
fluoride toxicity in the 1930s, hams hisdrik ho holm 

iC Frary. chief scientist for the 

tlinum Company of America 
l) in the 1930s. Concerned about 
I fluoride pollution, he also 
I that fluoride strengthened 


K.ii Rohulm lecturing. 


The Mellon Institute for Industrial Research in Pittsburgh, founded by leading Alcoa 
stockholder Andrew W. Mellon, which assisted industry in fighting lawsuits alleging air 





Gerald ). Cox, a researcher at the Mellon Institute who had worked on a 
fellowship from Alcoa and who, in 1939. made the first suggestion that 
fluoride be added to public water supplies, mellon institute collection, 


man Project-era fluorine protection 


General Leslie R, Groves, in charge of the 
United States Army Corp of Engineers' 
WWII-era Manhattan Project to make 
the atomic bomb. Los alamos national 


f s tmr^ t i ~2 sj, 


r, a, wm M7, Wttani« suum 

fc rtM Wf, 7, **. T. 

29 Afrll lyi* 



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1*4*1 *r*a MitaMr, MUi a ow .^uui ATM, M.T.t 

Of a ?»jo»aC 

■r»t*a «rr««ts «r 

tiu *»• T la 

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• a/ataa affect altt aaatal 

«ui laa Uvusa aa t:.» waajfaajajaaj 
»>•* likal/ tLat taa r — l — tit nuu 
oauaattT* faator. 

1, Slooa) «Mt >lu i&(*iouii&* is asDo&tial, It 
• 111 »a nooaaasrr *« «o«« 1a » xtat „«mal affaata 

* aHaf axpaawa, if »o*^aac sra to tM £X9M*1/ pro- 

taai a ,U»aa la- 

taota*. Tbla ia loaortaat HI Obi/ to ;re 
alTl«uai, Ml tlM to eroT»,.t a oooruaod wrtui f 
lac aafcajra hf taaj-oparl,- oarfQBfcia* HI a nutlaa. 


4* Tfila lattnr la t>«lo j r .ulcn: tha »jraa 2a«laa.r, 
■Him - •!■«*»• araa, teat apjrov&l w alt*;., rural of Ma la- 
faraaaloa a a . l l fca. ai imn m*/ '*• iA*laataa ■/ 

»a» taa blau-lat 


bMUlaa • aavfoaaa r—m ran 
fr««t» of 

WW j L U pa lib) 

J j i« L. rams 
Qaptaln, IttiUal Or 

_^___ 'fflt' " 

distsibutkhi _ .-»« v * 

* , - >- 

aiaaj. torpa. 

: |£S%£3ri. 

Manhattan Project document warning that fluoride (coded "F") rather than uranium 
(coded "T") likely caused central -nervous- system injury in nuclear workers, 



-,nw ■^ < innnn 
■■ ii ii ft* 

Dr. Harold C. Hodge, senior 
toxicologisl for the Manhattan 
Project, and America's leading 
icicntific promoter of water 
fluoridation during the cold 
war. i a 1 1 k 

lames B. Conant, president of Harvard 
University, chemist, and senior government 
official in the Manhattan Project to make 
the atomic bomb. 0. paul bishop, 


Former fluoride workers lames Southern, Ralph Deadwyk-r, jnd Orficc Coggins, at the 
Harshaw ( .hemical Company's secret World War Il-era "Area C" plant in Cleveland, OH. 


Harshaw worker Allen Hurt. Once secret M i nfuftt fl l*roiect-«ra 
mtdfcal documents reveal fluoride poisoning of his urine. 


: Health Service engineer George Clayton taking measurements in the wake of the Donora 


Toxic Fumes Believed 
Cause of 19 Deaths; 
Hundreds Stricken 

Lift o/ I* 4m4 In Conor* tmot tnd pietwu. *■§* | 

Br ASA ATWATIB. PHUoarrh hut BUS Writ** 

DONORA. Nov. ]— The heavy pall of fog which 
brought mysterious death to 16 elderly persons here this 
week end has begun to drift away. 

Two separate Investigations are under way to stalk Pittsburg Press 
the "silent killer" 'which is believed to be a toxic poison November 2, 19.4s. 
in the fog 

The dead I v lag struck first Friday rurht when 
hundreds of person* — 1 1 1 n atty asthma MiftVren — expari- 
enced difficulty in breathing 

— ■ • . • , . _.v *- — _* n 11 n adtt 

0*<r Hi.*b^V P'W* 

VOLUME 65. No. 130 •• PITT* 

Sfofw or f margaeicy Dee/ored — 

Smog-Born Plague 
Kills 17 in Donora; 
Hospitals Overcrowded 

Doctor* Ham* 4 Days of Fog Plus Plant 
Furnas; Hundreds Laova Town for Sofaty 

DONORA, Oct. 30 (Special! -A state of mergeney Dfi 

was declared in Donora today as a mysterious Knot I 
bom plague brought death to 17. 

Doctor* worked without sleep and the Red Crew. | n 

Asaertcaa Legion and other (roup*, co-operated to set 1 
up m emergency boapiUI In the town Community 

building. ' |. - , 

Hospitais were jammed to oTernowlnjt. Twelve oeraoru I Wl 

News of the air pollution disaster which took place in Donora, 
Pennsylvania over Halloween, 1948. 

Dip Sadller, chemical consultant who blamed fluoride pollution for the Donora disaster, 
I represented New lersey farmers in WW'll-era fluoride pollution claims against the 
atun Project. trai:ok sadtur 

Ihemist Says Fluorine Gas 
lilted 19 Smog Deaths 

'<...*,- 1 M—*m* »■ n«d Cut rolklih.ii 
' In Report to Donora Council on Tragedy 
Fluorine gas — not rulphur fumes— was the poison In 

itipSadtler Names fluorine for the Donora deaths 

Aluminum < Jmityiinu, nt' Atnrririt 


Daoaabw- JO, 1 

Dr. lilllM F. lob* 
Eattarlai Laboratory 

fcl«ri«i of Cincinnati 
CinclnnaU 19, Oil* 

Dw Dr. anna: 



1« htT« Jut eoanlatad mi aniljticil nark 
_ ban bM dUouaaad wftli DrTTiudlay A. Irniji, Hadioal 
Diractor af Aluaisa* Caapuqr of Annrlci. Dr. Irwin baa 


For ■ 

•»Ud Uut I tr 

_ Cmbmj l_ 
Ui»t I trauail tLa nnlti of Mr amlyai* to you. 
Toar inforaatiaa, tfca raialti of our ulljill in baiaf. 
irauMittod only to you and to Dr. Irwin who u r*c*i*iu ( 
copy of toil lalUr, 

Shnrtlj if hr to* ] 
Dr. Q. W. Bumt, htLolociit it tba 

f uhlMtOO, P*BDJjlf Uii. MBt to M 

from to* body of Hi* Dmm who di. 

•f Ur Uu Donor* •pitsdo, 

lit »t th* luhinelon Eoapttil, 

lang tTiwa* una blood 
mm tba body af mkm Daranca mo diad darinf th* poriod af to* 
troabl* at Danam. t* Bad* * g*»rtl «i»nio»tioo of lh» loaf 
tlMM 1b ordir to dttaraia* mat alaaant* Mr* praiast, aaa 
tba raaulta van nor* or l»»a of • iwril natura. Tba aupla 
abowad Um praaanc* of a araat nany alaaaata, including' toa* 

la thi couru of our (lamination of tba tiara*, 
a* and* oar aiual rpactragrifhlc taat for fluorio* which will 
ruttl axtraaalj aaali asoonu, and «* atra vnabl* to dataat 
any fluorla* at all la to* law tlaaaa. It aaj b* of aaaa 
inUrait to you to know that abas th* iupl* at Mot to u, it 
iaaaraad In * liquid anion any or nay act bat* b«an inaai - 
y fluid. Bafora ashing tba lam. it ■** r»ao«d froa tbla 
and aqnaaud aavwral tlaa*. Tbla two Tad aa wuoh liquid 
• iblt,\at all of tba liquid KOwaod oat. u nil M taat 
_ aiaj In Um bottl*. Ma oarafulty aanad ana taatad. lowaVar, 
tba Mb of tbla liaald wi* so wrtrawaiy loa that *a did not bar* 
.to aiki tba aaooad ap*otrographle aoot naatiaary 

1 aaapl* L 

to taat for floorln* 

Jit that particular Una, aa did not da 
aavtblBE altb tba aaasl* or blood, baoaoaa aa laaraad tbat tw 
body or tba nan bad baas aabalaad bafora «si*ion of th* tlan 




00 a outliutii. fci 

"JlJW tba M«l/of"l£Tfor*hoartirc»t2S"i3 ""I" 
Juut p*npl*UdTbit aaflriii. ti.^25f.^!^L-!5L™_" n » 
ccaUlnr 2Q.1 b.u... ??£?": ™ •""" •" ««*iwd by a* 1 

Blood test secretly performed 

by the Aluminum Company 

of America on one of the 

Donora dead, showing high 

level of fluorine in blood. 


oaa toyou. 

I trait ye. .ill find tbla lata 
»ary truly year*, 

I. J- OTCBILt, Chimt 1 

Copy! Br. 

f. 1. cmmaLsiL, lui 

iaalytical DiTliica 


Dwlay *. Iraia, Flttaborab 

Dr. George I . Waldboti. internationally renowned allergist and physician who 
early warned America to the dangers ul smoking, and of the potential dangers 
of even small amounts of fluoride. Elizabeth ramsey 

Frank I . v.nii.iin. leading attor- 
ney representing the Aluminum 
( iiinpjny ul America, and head 
of the industry Fluorine Lawyers 
Committee. Pittsburgh post- 


l)r, Robert A. Kehoe, Director of the 
Kettering (jboratory at the University of 
Cincinnati, and leading defender of industry 

in fluoride pollution lawsuits, university 


Nicholas C. Leone, Chief of Medical 
Investigations al the National Instilule 
of Dental Research during the is>sos. 


Fluoride poimaed teeth. rmn|ilei i»i wlwi is known as "dental 

tluorosiS.'*l)K. HARDY IIMHtACK 

The Reynolds Metals 

Company aluminum 

reduction plant at 

Akwesasnc, New York. 

HENRY Hi kim 

National Fluoridation News, a newspaper edited by George and Edith Waldbott, which 
connected the vigorous antifluoridaiion movement during the 1960s and 1970$. 

Phyllis |, MuUerux, as a graduate student 
I rbi University of Kansas. 


K.its tested for central-ncrvous- 
systcm effects in the Forsyth Dental 
Center's RAPID computer system. 


Mullcnix's toxicology laboratory at the Forsyth Dental Center, c, i99°- phyllis mullenix 

f Forsyth Dental Center 





New Forsyth 
Toxicology Dept. 

Dr. PhyUu Mullenix ha* been appointed by 
Or. John W. Hein, Director of Forsyth, lo 
head Ihe department of toxicology. In an- 
nouncing the appointment. Dr. Hein staled: 
"Societal concern* are becoming justi- 
fiably aroused over the long lerm implications 
or traces of toxins in the environment. As a 
major center of dental science, we at Forsyth 
believe our institution has a special obligation 
to answer these concerns by a reexamination 
and russessmenl of the long range toxicity of 
substances of particular interest lo dentistry, 
as for example, the fluoride km, mercury (in 
denial fillings), nitrous oxkte (for anesthesia), 
non precious metal substitutes for gold and 
many others. But, beyond our interest in 
the toxicity of specific materials used in den- 
tistry, it is our desire to advance methodology 
for detecting toxicity. Dr. Mullenix has evolv- 
ed a new technique which indicates a much 
more sensitive test than ihe traditional means 
of the testing of compounds causing toxic ef- 
fect* on the nervous system. It measures 
changes in animal behavior rather than 
changes in structure. Application of this 
method to nitrous oxide. long considered the 
safest of general anesthetics, has revealed Ihat 
this agent call cause damage at certain times 
during Ihe gestation period in rodents which 

arc only revealed as behavioral changes whea 
adulthood is reached. The Tar- reaching im- 
plications of this research are obvious/ 

Dr. Mullenix received her Ph.D. from the 

University of Kansas Medical Center and is » 

former Fellow in Toxicology of Johns 

Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public 

Health. Dr. Mullenix holds many consulting 

appointments to government and industry 

and is a faculty member of the Department of 

Psychiatry of the Harvard Medical School. 

Dr . Hein also stated that be had Ihe adde 

pleasure of announcing the appointment of 

Dr. Harold C. Hodge, internationally 

known lexicologist, as Research Affiliate in 

the Department of Toxicology. Dr. Hodge, 

considered by his colleagues as the dean j 

modern toxicology, was the founder of t' 

Society of Toxicology and served as iu pn 

dent in 1961 . Dr. Hodge has held many i 

portant academic and scientific appoint mr 

including Professor of Pharmacology 

Toxicology, the University of Roche 

School of Medicine and Dentistry, Prole 

or Pharmacology. University of Califor 

San Francisco, and Professor of Ea 

vironmenial Toxicology, University 

California, Irvine. While professor 

Rochester, Dr. Hodge headed the Divi 

or Pharmacology and Toxicology, 

ten Project and Atomic Energy Project. 

Hodge is also Ihe author or several texts < 

toxicology «nd numerous scientific pr" 

contributed by him lo the | 

and lexicological literature. 

Forsyth Denial 
Center News, 
spring 1084, 
appointments of 
Phyllis Mullenix 
and Harold Hodge. 


r> /■aiWii Myiimi. nraaatj mmttlmttf^mf^n /,.i»,./„ r i ngmaaaaf, iMffa 

HmrM C Hndtf. ftnrmrh Ajfthlr In Tanrofctv and tri Fonyik'i Dmtnr. Dr. John »' 


after that? Mullenix said. "I mean that is a complete dodging of a very 
important factor that should be looked at. There was no repeat study, 
no follow-up on fluoride. . . . That is completely the opposite of what 
happened with ozone, she said. Everything was blamed on ozone. 
Everything went into [studying] nitrous oxides, or sulfur oxides." 
(Unlike the case with fluoride, where the source of the effluent is often 
obvious and unique, suing a particular factory or industry for use of 
these more ubiquitous pollutants is much more difficult)" 

The Clean Air Act let industry off the hook: federal laws would not 
protect citizens living near fluoride emitting factories. The aluminum 
industry was an especially big winner. In 1958 for example, Reynolds 
Metals — fresh from its defeat in the Martin trial — opened a new 
aluminum plant near the ancestral Native American farming 
community of Akwesasne on St. Regis Island in the Gulf of St. 
Lawrence, which is situated on the border between New York and 
Canada. Akwesasne is a Mohawk Indian word meaning "land where 
the partridge drums." Those partridges soon fell silent, however, as 
Reynolds's fluoride filled the air. 

By the early 1960s a drumbeat of protest was sounding. Mohawk 
farmers reported that honeybees and grasshoppers had disappeared 
from the area, while sick cattle and etched car windows were found 
downwind from the Reynolds's plant. Although Reynolds was acutely 
aware of the dangers from fluoride — after all, the company had just 
received Robert Kehoe's 1962 report on the poisoned beagle dogs — 
Reynolds did not share the information with the Native Americans, 
according to the Mohawk biologist Henry Lickers." "For 17 years we 
allowed Reynolds Metals to come onto the island to look at the 
problem. And for 17 years they collected data ... never insinuating 
there was anything wrong with our cattle," Lickers remarked." 

The aluminum industry helped to drive a chemical stake through an 
ancient culture that had lived in harmony with the earth, said Lickers. 
The concept of Peace, the concept of the Great Law — all of those 
things knit our people together in a strong union. [But] when you 
poison the environment, the fiber of the community comes apart. Into 
that void now comes the non-traditional economies — gambling, 
smuggling — because people no longer can depend upon 
the old economies. 


Evidence that fluoride might be hurting local children at Akwe-sasne 
was discovered on a 1978 visit to a Mohawk school by the scientist 
Bertram Carnow of the University of Illinois School of Public Health. He 
found a range of health problems on St. Regis Island similar to those that 
had frequently been linked to fluoride elsewhere. (The complaints echo 
almost exactly the injuries to Paul Martins daughter, for example.) "At the 
school," Carnows team reported, "teachers stated that ... the Island children 
were more irritable and hyperactive and appeared to be suffering from a 
considerable amount of chronic fatigue. They seemed to be tired all of the 
time. Additionally, some had complained of aching in the legs, particularly 
the muscles, and in one case, the son of one of the teachers had so much 
pain in his feet that he frequently had difficulty in sleeping. Several 
teachers mentioned poor handwriting as a problem. They felt that in 
several cases that this might be due to the presence of a tremor. A number 
of children apparently had rashes, which were noted by one of the teachers. 
Respiratory infections were frequent and one of the children had developed 
a goiter." 

Among the Akwesasne Mohawks, Carnow concluded, "There would 
appear to be significant numbers of people with abnormalities of the 
muscular, skeletal, nervous, and hematologic systems. In addition, there 
appears to be a large number at high risk because of diabetes and high 
blood pressure." 

In 198o, threatened by Carnows findings, the Canadian and American 
governments intervened and arranged for a second team of scientists to 
visit the tribe for a more in-depth study." Although the report subsequently 
issued by Dr. Irvine Selikoff of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 
New York was not able to conclusively fix the blame on fluoride for local 
health problems — a determination that eventually helped to undercut the 
$150 million lawsuit against Reynolds — at least one scientist believes that 
the Akwesasne verdict has not yet been fully rendered. 59 Phyllis Mullenix 
is now regularly visiting Akwesasne to advise Mohawk health care 
providers on the possible relationship between environmental pollution and 
their sick patients. "A lot of these people have lung problems, asthma, 
breathing problems — they are all on puffers [inhalers]," she says. Mullenix 
notes that, while Dr. Selikoff s team found serious breathing difficulties 
and lung problems in the Mohawks, his scientists 


were never shown the Kettering Laboratory's fluoride inhalation 
study, which connects fluoride to lung damage at low doses, and 
which Reynolds Metals had helped pay for. 

Such missing medical evidence has left scientists, doctors, and Native 
Americans alike in the dark about fluorides health effects and has shaped 
an environment where chronic sickness has been blamed, not on fluoride, 
but on the Indians themselves. "It is bizarre," Mullen ix remarked. "This 
population has been so sick for so long. They said, We are Indian — yeah, 
we are all diabetic, we are all fat, we all have thyroid problems.' They have 
been told that for so long. A population has accepted illness as a way of 

What befell the Indians at Akwesasne may have befallen us all. 
Federal regulators were watching the situation at Akwesasne in early 
198os very closely. A ruling that the Indians had been hurt by fluoride 
would have increased pressure on the EPA to list fluoride as a 
hazardous "criteria" air pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and 
required federal policing of fluoride across the entire country." Instead, 
the Selikoff team's failure to conclusively link fluoride to Mohawk 
sickness once again helped what some environmentalists call "the 
protected pollutant" to wriggle out from under EPA scrutiny. 

But had Selikoff seen the 1962 Kettering study on the beagles, and the 
strength of its link between fluoride and lung damage, he might have been 
forced to rule differently on Akwesasne — and federal regu lators might 
have been forced to look anew at fluoride air pollution across the rest of the 
country. "The changes that Selikoff was seeing in the reduced lung 
capacity of Akwesasne residents] would have made sense," notes Phyllis 
Mullenix. "His conclusions, in respect to pulmonary function [and its 
cause-and-effect relationship with inhaled fluoride] would have had to be 
totally different." 

A new focus by the EPA, aggressively targeting fluoride in air 
pollution, might even make good economic sense, argued the Uni- 
versity of California's Robert Phalen, by allowing industry to be more 
selective in filtering out harmful air poisons. "You can't just turn off all 
air pollutants, because we will all starve," he said. "You have got to 
identify the more toxic components and control them in a pin-point 
fashion. It's like food — do you ban food? No, you say salmonella is a 
problem and you control it." 

Hurricane Creek 

The People Rule 

Scientists have been villains in this story. Robert Kehoe and Harold Hodge 
buried important research and misled the general public. But scientists 
have been heroes, too. The pioneering work of Kaj Roholm and George 
Waldbott in unmasking fluoride s potential for harm was a principled 
effort to explore fluoride's role in our biology and biosphere. More 
recently we can see a similar heroic journey in that of Phyllis Mullenix. 
When her research revealed that fluoride in low doses has effects on the 
central nervous system, she was fired from her job as the head of the 
toxicology department at the Forsyth Dental Center in Boston, and her 
industry funding dried up. 

Mullenix has since immersed herself in the medical literature about 
fluoride and has appeared as an expert witness in several trials in which 
fluoride was alleged to have injured workers. Although the number of men 
and women exposed to fluoride in the workplace is enormous — and as we 
have seen in the data from the Kettering dog study, those workers are likely 
to have fluoride-induced injuries — nevertheless, fifty years of assurances 
by the Public Health Service that fluoride in small amounts is good and 
safe for children make winning damage lawsuits an uphill and often 
thankless task. 

PHYLLIS MULLENIX TOOK her seat on the stand beneath the giant seal of the 
state of Arkansas mounted high on the court-room wall. The seal, 
inscribed in Latin, read Regnat Populus — "The 


People Rule." The jury leaned forward. Presiding Circuit Court Judge 
Grisham Phillips peered over his glasses. All eyes were on the female 
toxicologist and the anticipated confrontation with the tall redheaded 
attorney Harry M. "Pete" Johnson III, who was now approaching the 

Mullenix had changed careers. Since being fired in 1994 she had become 
perhaps the most prominent scientist in the United States testifying in 
damage cases about the health risks she saw from low-level fluoride 
exposure. Mullenix had spoken with sick uranium and aluminum workers 
in Tennessee and Washington State, met with poisoned Mohawk Indians in 
New York, and testified in several court cases, helping to win financial 
settlements for a crippled chemical worker in Georgia and a 
water-treatment-plant operator in Arkansas. Despite these occasional legal 
successes, Mullenix believes that doctors and citizens share a blind spot in 
not viewing fluoride as a chemical poison and an industrial pollutant. The 
problem with fluoride is that it is not recognized for what it is. First people 
think of toothpaste and second they think of drinking water. They have 
totally ignored the fluoride industry and fluoride workers." 

In October 2000, back in Arkansas again, Mullenix found herself in the 
crosshairs of one of the nations most powerful corporations, the Reynolds 
Metals Company of Richmond, Virginia; as we have seen, Reynolds has a 
long history of fighting fluoride pollution claims and good reason to fear 
having the chemical more widely recognized as a workplace poison. 
Reynolds had been one of the principal supporters, and beneficiaries, of 
Robert Kehoes fluoride research at the Kettering Laboratory. Now 
Mullenix was an expert witness for a group of fifty workers suing Reynolds, 
part of a much larger group of several hundred workers, who also alleged 
that their health had been damaged while working at the company's Hurri- 
cane Creek worksite. 1 

One of the workers was Diane Peebles. The thirty-five-year-old mother 
of two sat quietly at the back of the Saline County courtroom in Benton 
throughout the October trial. Since working as a driver at Hurricane Creek 
in 1995 and 1996, a bizarre spectrum of physical and mental problems had 
dogged her. Her blood pressure had begun fluctuating wildly, and she had 
experienced powerful mood swings as well as "lots of headaches and 
stomach problems," with 


near constant exhaustion and pain in her joints. The aching never stops. I 
wish I had the energy that other people have, she added. 

Diane s husband, Scotty Peebles, had taken the witness stand. The 
stocky, tattooed laborer told the jury that his health had also collapsed in 
just six months at the Hurricane Creek site. He had been operating heavy 
machinery in order to bury chemical waste in giant pits. Scotty Peebles 
shared many symptoms with Diane and the other workers. His lung 
capacity had been cut almost in half, and his bones had lost mineral density, 
medical tests showed. His skin had burned bright red and his nose filled 
with painful blisters at the work site, he testified. Although he had not 
worked at Hurricane Creek for almost three years, twenty-nine-year-old 
Scotty Peebles's joints still ached and he, too, was plagued with mysterious 
headaches and stomach problems, he told the court. 

Sitting at the Peebles's kitchen table one October morning during the 
trial, the soft-spoken Diane suddenly burst into tears. Scotty sat silent, his 
hand gripping a coffee cup. "It's hard," she blurted out. The strain on the 
family was sometimes overwhelming, Diane said. Several scientists, 
including Dr. Mullenix, had testified about the serious and often long-term 
health risks from fluoride. "The kids want to know, "Are you sick 
mom — are you and Dad gonna die?' We tell them we are not going 
anywhere. I hate having to lie to my children, because I don't know myself. 
I want to make sure that they are taken care of. That is my biggest 
fear — because if we are not able to take care of our kids, who is going to?" 

Reynolds Metals had hired big-time lawyers to fight the Hurricane 
Creek workers' claim. Attorney Pete Johnson was from the Virginia-based 
firm of Hunton &Williams, who since 1910 had defended Standard Oil, 
Phillip Morris, and a host of banking, electric utility, and railroad 
companies. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell Jr. had once been a 
partner, and the firm had a reputation in the legal world of having a 
Southern "old boy" culture. Pete Johnson fitted the mold. The University of 
Virginia law school graduate was one of Hunton & Williams's younger 
members, but he had already defended clients in "toxic tort" cases of 
asbestos and lead poisoning. As Johnson approached the bench and opened 
his files, Phyllis Mullenix closed her eyes. She smiled, bracing herself, 
while recalling the words of her husband, Rick, when she had left Boston. 


The Reynolds lawyers, he had warned, are going to chew on your ass 
a while, but youve got more ass than they ve got teeth. 

The duel between Mullenix and Johnson over one of the most 
critical legal issues that had ever faced U.S. industry — fluoride dam- 
age to human health — was being fought, fittingly enough, near one of 
the most historic industrial sites in the United States. Only four miles 
from the Benton courthouse, Hurricane Creeks red earth once 
contained some of the nation's richest deposits of bauxite, the raw 
mineral needed to make aluminum. The Aluminum Company of 
America had built the nearby company town of Bauxite in the early 
19005 to house migrant miners. A National Park Service plaque at the 
Bauxite museum commemorates the regions vital role in making 
aluminum for aircraft during World War II. 

In October 2000 Benton was ready to make history again. The court case 
filed by the Hurricane Creek workers was closely linked to what EPA 
officials call the largest and most environmentally significant waste 
disposal issue facing aluminum producers in the United States.' 

The material Scotty Peebles had been burying at Hurricane Creek was a 
toxic by-product of making aluminum, a waste known as treated spent 
potliner. The EPA had taken an intense interest in the waste. Each year 
about 120,000 tons of spent potliner are produced by the aluminum 
industry in the United States.' The waste is impregnated with a witch's brew 
of fluoride, arsenic, and cyanide. Disposing of it has long been a financial 
headache for manufacturers — and a flashpoint for conflict with 
environmental regulators. There is so much of it and it is somewhat 
awkward to treat," noted Steve Silverman of the EPAs Office of General 

Once, ugly black mountains of waste potliner — literally, the waste 
lining of the steel pots in which the aluminum is smelted — had been stored 
on site or buried in pits, leaching fluoride and other poisons into 
groundwater, and winning toxic Superfund status for several aluminum 
plants across the country, a federal designation that targets the hazardous 
site for clean-up.' But by the early 1990s Reynolds told the EPA that the 
company had solved the potliner problem. It had invented a process at the 
Hurricane Creek site to treat the waste, heating it with sand and lime in 
giant furnaces at temperatures of over 1,100 degrees, driving off the 
cyanide, and then binding the 


fluoride to the sand and limestone as calcium fluoride. 

Hurricane Creek workers Jerry Jones and Alan Williams helped to 
develop that Reynolds treatment process — becoming, they now believe, 
two more unwitting victims of industrial fluoride poisoning. In 1988 the 
two laborers had been part of a work crew of several hundred men that 
greeted a mighty procession of loo-ton railroad "hopper" cars arriving in 
Arkansas, hauling potliner waste from aluminum companies in New York, 
Oregon, and Canada. The experimental treatment plant ran day and night, 
coiling a plume of black smoke across Saline County. Jerry Jones would 
climb into the railroad cars, smashing a sledgehammer to loosen the 
foul-smelling material while wearing only a bandana across his face for 
protection from the billowing dust. "We knew we were dealing with 
something awful," he added. "Your sweat would burn, and the stuff 
smelled just horrendous." 

Safety questions drew blunt responses from the Reynolds s contractors, 
the men recalled. Recession was biting Arkansas hard in the early 1990s, 
and both Jerry Jones and Alan Williams had young children to feed. "I was 
told to either god-dammed do it, or hit the fucking gate,' because they had 
over a thousand applications at the office of people waiting to take our 
jobs," said Jones. "They did not tell us one thing [about safety]." 

Alan Williams is a thick-necked former U.S. Marine with a college 
degree. He became a foreman at Hurricane Creek. He had always been 
"super physical," he said, but the forty-five-year-old quickly ran into health 
troubles while at the Reynolds site. "I wasn't sure what the problem was," 
he said. "My gums had begun to shrink. I quit smoking. I was having chest 
pains and rashes all over my body. I looked like an alcoholic and I don't 
hardly drink. It was covering my legs anti arms and I was having joint pain. 
My sex is gone. I'm impotent. It just wasted me away," he said.' 

By December 1991 the new treatment process was ready. Reynolds 
assured the EPA the "treated" spent potliner waste would not leach fluoride 
into ground water at levels the EPA deemed unsafe. That year the treated 
potliner was removed from the agency's list of toxic materials and "lost its 
hazardous waste stigma," according to Michelle Peace, an EPA 
environmental engineer who handled the delisting" process. 


The EPA ruling that the treated potliner was not hazardous was a 
financial windfall for Reynolds Metals. Instead of paying for the 
disposal of tens of thousands of tons of highly toxic waste, the company 
was now permitted to bury up to 300,000 cubic yards of the " treated" 
material each year in giant unlined pits at Hurricane Creek where, 
according to Peace, "there was no real associated costs with disposing 
of that material." 

The EPA may have ruled the material safe, but to workers like Scotty 
Peebles, the acrid dust that filled his truck cab each day was loathsome. 
Reynolds was experimenting with the treated pot-liner waste as 
commercial road-grading material, which was called ALROC. It was 
Peebles's job to haul the ALROC fluoride waste around the site for the 
test roads. He began to notice changes in the environment after he had 
begun this process. "It killed all the trees and the grass," Peebles said. "I 
used to see a lot of deer, then you didn't see too many come around any 

Reynolds had assured the EPA that fluoride leaching from the treated" 
waste would be less than 48 parts per million. But an environmental audit 
by an EPA contractor found levels at 2,400 parts per million — fluoride 
levels that "would have impacted human health and the environment," 
according to Michelle Peace. Nevertheless, the extraordinary difference 
between what Reynolds had promised and what it actually delivered was an 
honest difference of technique, not a deliberate effort to mislead the 
government regulators, according to Peace. "[Reynolds] ran the [initial] 
test as appropriately as they could." 

The attorney for the Hurricane Creek workers, Bruce McMath, didn't 
buy it. He claimed that Reynolds had "hoodwinked" the EPA from the 
beginning. He showed the Benton jury a Reynolds memo proving, he said, 
that the company had concealed the truth from the federal regulators.' 
"They knew the treatment process was not going to achieve what they were 
representing to the EPA it would achieve — or at least, how they knew the 
EPA was interpreting the data they were giving them." He also noted that 
Reynolds had hired a former top EPA official to work behind the scenes 
and help to get the treated potliner delisted. "These corporations have such 
sustained and long-term working relationships with these agencies," 
McMath said. "It becomes very difficult for you to overcome that." 


Michelle Peace conceded that the EPA had difficulty in evaluating the 
human-health significance of the revised test data. Her comments are 
revealing. While the amount of poison leaching into groundwater from the 
treated potliner was definitely the greatest for fluoride, nevertheless the 
agency still saw the cyanide and the arsenic in the waste as the greater 
health hazard, remarked Peace. Once again industry's historic investment 
in efforts to spin fluoride's image as good for teeth, and to hide its impact as 
a pollutant and worker poison, had paid a handsome dividend. "Nobody 
ever jumped up and down" at the fluoride results, explained Peace. "You 
need that for your teeth." 8 

The idea that fluoride could be harmful to humans came as no surprise 
to Reynolds Metals. Nor was the company a stranger to the notion that 
fluoride s role in dental health could influence the thinking of regulators 
and jurors. The Reynolds legal team in Arkansas had spent impressive 
funds in preparation for the October 2000 trial. That fall morning, 
however, as defense attorney Pete Johnson strode to the bench to begin 
his cross-examination of toxicologist Phyllis Mullenix, he pointed to the 
weapon he would use to defend his client. It cost less than four dollars. 
On the evidence table in full view of Judge Grisham Phillips and the 
Benton jury, lay a single item — a thin red box of Colgate fluoride 

Johnson approached Mullenix and smiled. He held up the toothpaste 
tube like a trophy. "You wouldn't brush your teeth ... with Col -gate 
toothpaste, would you, or any toothpaste, for that matter, where they put 
fluoride in it. Is that right?" Johnson asked Mullenix. 

"That's right," the scientist said. 

Johnsons legal strategy was familiar. Like the Reynolds lawyer 
Frederic Yerke in the Martin trial, forty-five years earlier, Johnson now 
used water fluoridation as a legal defense, pouring scorn on the notion 
that a chemical added to public water supplies, on behalf of children, 
could possibly have hurt the Hurricane Creek workers. He raised a 
polystyrene cup at Mullenix in a theatrical gesture, like a trophy, and 
slowly sipped the water in front of the jurors. 

You wouldnt drink the water in this courtroom on a regular basis like 
the folks who work here? Johnson asked the scientist. You wouldnt do 
that, would you? 


If I could afford to go out and buy the bottled water, I would do so, 
Mullenix answered. 

Hundreds of workers had breathed fluoride dust at the Hurricane Creek 
plant. The EPA had ordered Reynolds to clean up the site.' The federal 
Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) had fined a Hurricane 
Creek contractor for not providing safety equipment and training. Workers 
alleged serious injury: their bones ached, their lungs gasped for air, 
weeping sores erupted on flayed red skin, and some employees vomited in 
the morning before work.]" But Reynolds's attorney Johnson continued to 
drill away at the issue of water fluoridation. Mullenix was a loopy dissident, 
he inferred, out of step with the U.S. Surgeon General, the Public Health 
Service, and the Centers for Disease Control, all of whom, the jury was 
reminded, had endorsed fluoridation. It was a legal strategy, trusted and 
true, that Alcoa's Frank Seamans and his Fluorine Lawyers had understood, 
a generation before young Pete Johnson had contemplated going to law 

"In fact," Johnson now said, with a whiff of condescension, "you think 
that there ought to be a warning sign at the water fountain here outside the 
courtroom about all the health effects it can cause. Is that right?" 

"If someone asked me for my advice, would I drink it, I would say 
no, Mullenix said. But I m not into parading posters or putting labels 
or warnings up anywhere, she added. 

But Johnson soldiered on. Did Mullenix believe, he asked, that 
fluoridated water was responsible for "thyroid, memory, suicide, 
depression, neurological [problems], ulcers, stomach problems, eye 
problems . . . and ear problems?" 

It wasnt that simple, Mullenix responded. The scientist explained 
that most people now received fluoride from multiple sources, not just 
drinking water. Many foods also frequently contained high levels of 
fluoride, especially food that was processed and irrigated with 
fluoridated water. Many agricultural fertilizers contained fluoride. 
Some popular medications, such as Prozac, were made with fluoride. 
And workers at numerous industrial sites, such as Hurricane Creek, 
continued to breathe fluoride at potentially unsafe levels. 

You have to look at the total body burden, Mullenix told the 



"The drinking water is a contributor to the total body burden. And then you 
have to look at the exposure totally and how it adds up. 

The jury listened as Johnson continued. Youre against putting fluoride 
in drinking water because of the medical problems it can cause. ... Is that 
right? You are opposed to that? he asked. 

I really didnt have an opinion about fluoride, Dr. Mullenix answered, 
until I had done studies and investigations of it . . . but after doing the 
studies and considering the health impacts, I would not recommend it as a 
good practice." 

Then Bruce McMath, the workers' attorney for whom Mullenix was an 
expert witness, walked to the front of the court and handed Judge Grisham 
Phillips the medical study on the group of beagles, which Reynolds had 
commissioned at the Kettering Laboratory in 1962. He also gave the judge 
letters between company officials and the Kettering Laboratory's director, 
Dr. Robert Kehoe, discussing the research." McMath explained that during 
the pretrial phase known as discovery, he had asked Reynolds for any 
company documents about fluoride and its health effects. The company 
had not given him the Kettering fluoride study, the very study he was now 
handing to the judge. As Judge Phillips took the long-ago documents from 
the workers attorney, Reynolds s past appeared to have caught up with it. 
The documents linked Reynolds to a medical cover-up, illustrating that 
scientific information about fluorides harmful effects had been suppressed 
for almost half a century. 

It was as if fireworks had erupted in the middle of the courtroom. 
Reynolds s lawyer, Pete Johnson, quickly intervened, walking briskly to 
the front of the court, huddling with the Judge and hissing at McMath in 
stage whispers. Reynolds objected to the Kettering studys being admitted 
as evidence, he said. Johnson was especially outraged at any suggestion 
that the big aluminum company had " buried the documents or somehow 
failed to produce documents that it had in its possession, he told Judge 

McMath fought back. Your Honor, he insisted. Reynolds had 
obviously suppressed the health study. "We asked them to produce all their 
documents, McMath told the Judge, including studies ... which pertained 
to or consisted of human and animal health effects upon exposure to 
fluoride. And of course, this document is 
not in there. 


McMath wanted the jury to know that Reynolds had commissioned the 
study in the wake of a fluoride-pollution lawsuit, hidden the results, and 
then, forty years later, failed to turn the research over to the injured 
Hurricane Creek workers. They had hidden it twice, McMath said. To the 
great distress of McMath and his workers, Judge Phillips banned that 
argument. Mullenix could discuss the contents of the Kettering study, the 
Judge ruled, but McMath could not tell the jury about the long-ago Martin 
lawsuit, or that Reynolds had attempted to keep the study secret.' It was a 
bitter pill for the plaintiffs' attorney. "I thought that they deserved to face 
that in the court, before the jury, McMath protested. 

A moment of truth in the Arkansas trial did come, however, when 
attorney Johnson questioned Phyllis Mullenix about Scotty Peebles s 
breathing problems. The waste Peebles had handled at the Hurricane Creek 
site had contained calcium fluoride, the same chemical that had injured the 
long-ago Kettering beagle dogs. Peebles said that the foul-smelling dust 
had filled the cab of his front-end loader, grabbing at his lungs, burning his 
skin, and inflicting painful headaches. It was getting in your hair. You 
would literally breathe this stuff in, he added. 

A doctor diagnosed the twenty-eight-year-old with emphysema. 
Peebles s lung capacity was almost halved, tests showed. Many other 
Hurricane Creek workers also showed decreased lung capacity. 

Mullenix explained how the fluoride dust used in the Kettering 
experiment had caused lung damage in dogs. Would the same dust hurt 
workers such as Scotty Peebles at the Hurricane Creek work site, the 
workers lawyer McMath asked? 

"Yes," replied Mullenix. 

Later that day Reynolds's attorney Johnson attempted to shoot down 
this diagnosis during his cross-examination of Mullenix. 

"Are you saying that Mr. Peebles's emphysema was caused by 
fluoride . . . from Hurricane Creek? Johnson asked. 
Certainly, said Mullenix. 

But Johnson oozed confidence. He had researched the published 
medical literature thoroughly. In all those articles you showed us and all 
these references you gave us, he continued, do you have any reference 
that says that fluoride causes or contributes to 


Johnson turned, grandly, to the jury. It is getting late he reminded them. 
He swiveled back to Mullenix. Do you have an article in all of the stuff 
you have brought and collected that says, We did a study and we found 
that fluoride causes the disease emphysema? he asked. 

Mullenix played her trump card. In the Kettering study that we 
presented earlier, in the pathology reports, the microscopic examination, 
they use [the term] emphysema lesions, she said. They use the word 
"emphysema,' yes." 

Johnson adjusted his glasses. He seemed startled. "You're saying in the 
Kettering study in the dogs?" His voice trailed off. "In the dogs," 
Mullenix repeated. 

"In the dogs." Johnson looked at his notes. 

"That's correct," said Mullenix. 

Judge and jury looked on. The Reynolds lawyer sounded almost 
incredulous. Animal experiments had connected workers lung injuries 
with fluoride? He looked at the bench where his legal support team sat. 
They stared back. 

"They found emphysema, this disease emphysema was caused by 
fluoride?" Johnson repeated. 

The pathologists report, in looking at the tissues, said there were 
emphysematous changes, and that's what was reported," said Mullenix. 

"Okay. All right," the Reynolds lawyer finally conceded. 

Although Judge Phillips prevented attorney Bruce McMath from telling 
the Arkansas jury about the long-ago Martin trial — and why the Kettering 
fluoride research had been commissioned by Reynolds — several former 
Hurricane Creek workers sitting in the courtroom that Friday afternoon 
understood what had just taken place. 

"I didn't find out 'til yesterday that Reynolds had known anything about 
[fluoride's inhalation effects]," said Jerry Jones, who had begun working at 
Hurricane Creek in 1988. "Reynolds had conducted a research test about 
fluoride in 1962. We should have been told," he said. 

"I am angry," said Alan Williams, the former Hurricane Creek shift 
supervisor. Reynolds knew in 1962 what fluoride can do to you. They cant 
say they didnt, because they had their own study. 


Reynolds had a very good idea about fluoride in 1962 based on the 
testimony I heard here today, said Tommy Ward, a rangy ex-worker who 
had been in court for most of the trial, watching the jury and listening to the 
medical experts. Ward had suffered a violent stroke in 1996. He blamed his 
health problems on his years at Hurricane Creek breathing fluoride potliner. 
Mullenix did a superb job, he said. The jury got enough of that, I could 
tell. I think the plaintiffs hit a home run today." 

Any optimism, however, vanished just four days later. In a decision that 
left many of the former workers incredulous and angry, Bruce McMath 
suddenly abandoned the lawsuit against Reynolds. On the Wednesday 
afternoon of October 25, 2000, Jerry Jones and Alan Wil liams went to 
court as usual. Nobody was around, Jones said. 

The trial had been scheduled to end that Friday. Several former 
workers were hopeful about the outcome. (McMath had seemed con- 
fident too, and had even turned down a modest offer from Reynolds to 
settle the case.) The jurors often passed through a landscaped area 
outside the courthouse, where smokers and visitors congregated and 
chatted. Diana Peebles had overheard a juror, she said. We just have to 
do something, the juror said, according to Peebles. They were saying 
it was just a question of how much they give us, Peebles explained she 
had overheard. 

However, that Wednesday morning, Bruce McMath had told Judge 
Phillips that he wanted to abandon the trial, in a legal procedure in 
Arkansas state courts known as non-suiting. McMath believed the jury 
had turned against him. He feared that the court would rule that the 
workers had not been injured at the site. It was better, he thought, to 
withdraw the lawsuit and perhaps allow another legal team to remount 
it at a later date. We were going to lose the whole case," he insisted. 
McMath blamed Judge Phil-lips for not allowing him to tell the jury 
that Reynolds Metals had suppressed the Kettering study. And he 
pointed the finger at state and federal agencies that had let Reynolds 
bury hundreds of tons of toxic fluoride waste at the Hurricane Creeks 
site. Reynolds had deceived those agencies, McMath said, by 
exaggerating how much fluoride its treatment process would remove. 
But the agencies had backed down, denying that they had been misled, 
effectively torpedoing his case. 


The EPA basically said in as many words that they did not think they 
had been deceived or they had acted inappropriately, McMath explained. 
Of course they had. To a lawyer or to a sophisticated audience you could 
see what they had done, but they whitewashed it, and that really took the 
wind out of our sails in terms of the possibility of punitive damages or 
indignation with the jury. It became pretty evident to us that we were not 
going to be successful. 

But the Hurricane Creek workers were angry and baffled at the trial's 
outcome. It seemed bizarre. How could their lawyer first turn down a 
settlement from Reynolds and then abandon the entire lawsuit? Bruce 
McMath must have lost a fortune by aborting the Ben-ton lawsuit, said a 
Little Rock trial attorney, James Swindoll. "You are giving up two hundred 
grand the minute you do that," he said. " You can't get it back, unless you 
pursue it a second time." 13 

"We weren't very impressed," said the soft-spoken Diana Peebles. 
It just seems very strange to us that this would occur. Several other former 
workers felt that they had been deceived twice, first by Reynolds Metals 
and now by their lawyers. After the trial McMath had told Jerry Jones that 
he was going to reload for a second shot at Reynolds and bring a fresh 
lawsuit against the aluminum company, Jones said. Instead, eleven days 
later, on November 5, 2000, McMath and his partner, Steve Napper, 
gathered the workers together for an announcement. 

Jerry Jones remembers that day. He had not seen many of his former 
workmates in years. He was shocked at how their health had deteriorated. 
Some had developed crooked joints and "big knobs on their knees and 
fingers," said Jones. Skin sores were visible on many. Others could not lift 
their arms above their heads. "It was just ugly," said Jones. "It just blew my 
mind how it is slowly affecting them. You know there is something wrong 
when they all have the same thing," he added. 

The men listened as their lawyers addressed them for the final time. 
"Boys, we got some bad news," Jerry Jones remembers Steve Napper 
saying. After three years of representing them, McMath and Napper 
explained to the gathered men that they were dropping their case. It was too 
difficult to prove the Hurricane Creek workers had been permanently hurt 
by their chemical exposures, the lawyers explained. "Find someone else," 
McMath and Napper 


told the stunned workers, then shook a few hands and sidled out according 
to the shell-shocked Jerry Jones. The whole meeting didn't last five 
minutes," he recalled. 

But Bruce McMath is unapologetic for dropping the Hurricane Creek 
suit. There was little hard data on how much fluoride the men and women 
had been exposed to, he said. And proving that the chemical had caused so 
many different injuries, especially in the small sample of workers 
represented in the Benton case was difficult, he added. Many of the 
workers also smoked cigarettes. One abused cocaine. "It creates credibility 
problems," said McMath. "We were looking at a case with thin causation 
and amorphous damages, so it becomes an impossible proposition." 

The fate of the Benton trial was a consequence, perhaps, of fluoride's 
basic nature. Although fluoride's effects on human health potentially rival 
or even exceed the injuries caused by any other workplace poison, 
paradoxically, because fluoride has the potential to cause so many kinds of 
health problems, it is actually harder to fix blame on the chemical. Unlike 
other chemicals with easy-to-see and unique "signature" effects — such as 
the mesothelioma cancer caused by asbestos — fluoride is a systemic 
poison, inflicting differ ent injuries in different people and at different 

Duking it out with Reynolds Metals also gave Bruce McMath a 
first-hand look at how water fluoridation has aided industry in the 
courtroom. Hurricane Creek had been his first fluoride case. Proving 
fluoride injury to a jury was hard enough; but the federal government's 
long-ago endorsement of the safety of adding fluoride to public water 
supplies had placed the entire public-health establishment in fluoride's 
corner, he said. By waving a toothpaste tube at the Benton jury, Reynolds s 
Hurricane Creek attorney was taking advantage of that," McMath pointed 
out. " Industry has manipulated this public debate to put a smiling face on 
what is otherwise a toxin, and thereby reduce their cost of doing business in 
those businesses where fluoride is a waste product," he added. Dumping 
waste fluoride in reservoirs may help industry, but from a pure public 
health perspective, McMath said, This whole thing about putting it in the 
water is just silly. 

After the aborted lawsuit, Jerry Jones and Alan Williams hunted for a 
new attorney. They met with James Swindoll, who called 


McMaths office and received an explanation that McMath had no intention 
of refiling the workers case. He remembers the Hurricane Creek workers 
who visited his office as some of the most well-informed clients that I ever 
interviewed. Swindoll declined to represent them, however, and they 
never found a lawyer willing to refile their claim. "It just looked like a 
nightmare of a case," he said. "It was going to bankrupt a plaintiff's 

But because fluoride poisoning isn't easy to prove in a court of law, 
does it mean that doctors or regulators should abandon the issue? Phyllis 
Mullenix, for example, continues to take new cases of alleged fluoride 
poisoning in workers, representing plaintiffs around the country. She is 
convinced that an epidemic of disease and injury has slipped beneath the 
radar screen of modern health professionals. It is a sometimes-lonely battle, 
but the Plains daughter of Olive and Shockey Mullenix cannot walk away 
from the issue. She remains especially haunted by the anguished phone 
calls in the middle of the night from crippled former aluminum and 
chemical workers. They are often suffering obvious 
central-nervous-system problems, she notes, but they have been cast adrift 
by today s medical profession. I get some of the most pathetic individuals 
calling up, Mul-lenix says. "They can't get a doctor to listen. The doctors 
don't know anything about fluoride and think the workers are nuts." 

The Damage Is Done 

BEHIND A CLUTTERED desk at the Newburgh Free Academy, under a 
portrait of Coretta Scott King, nurse-practitioner Audrey Carey daily 
performs physical exams on students at the large public school, which has 
2,500 children in grades ten through twelve. The former mayor is in a 
unique position to see some of the health effects from her community s 
long experiment of adding fluoride to water supplies. 

Fifty years earlier, Dr. Harold Hodge had assured local citizens that 
the Newburgh experiment had proved water fluoridation safe and had 
urged it upon the entire country. Health hazards do not justify postponing 
water fluoridation, he had told Congress in : 95 4' 1 The Hudson Valley 
town quickly became the poster child for a global sales effort. Newburgh s 
smiling youngsters were paraded before scientists from the United 
Kingdom, New Zealand, and the World Health Organization. 2 And, for six 
days in 1963 Dr. Hodge sang Newburgh s praises before the Supreme 
Court in Dublin, prescribing mandatory fluoridation for Ireland. 3 

Ireland, and several other countries, swallowed his story. But today, 
back in Newburgh, Audrey Carey is no longer certain. The most visible 
effects from fluoride in Newburgh water are not fewer cavities, but instead 
the high rates of speckled and mottled teeth. Careys friends and family, 
among many others in the community, have this condition, which is 
known as dental fluorosis. And after fifty years Newburgh children have 
virtually the same amount of dental decay as their counterparts in the 
neighboring town of Kingston, which was the control city in the original 


Kingston has resisted all efforts in subsequent years to add fluoride to its 
water supply. But following Newburghs fluoridation, the rate of fluorosis 
was always higher there than in Kingston, and during the 1990s it rose 
again. Fluorosis also occurs more frequently in African American children, 
according to recent surveys done by the New York Department of Health.' 
I see the mottling that occurs, mainly in poor children, Carey told me. 
She also sees it in her own family: both her grandchildren have dental 
fluorosis. Although their mother is now very careful in reading the 
products she buys, to make sure that there is no fluo ride, Carey believes 
that the damage is done. Medically, it looks very bad for them," she says. 
"I am not sure what other physical effects they may have, or defects for that 

Newburghs legacy of mottled teeth is shared by much of the rest of the 
country. Today, many dentists face a disturbing dilemma. Dental decay is 
still a serious and painful problem, especially in the inner city and even in 
fluoridated areas, where children are often trapped in a crossfire of poverty, 
poor nutrition, and a woeful public provision of dental care.' In some 
American cities as many as 3 out of every 4 children have dental fluorosis, 
and simply adding fluoride to public water supplies may have reached the 
end of the road as an easy proposal for fixing bad teeth.' The dental 
researcher Dr. Hardy Limeback, of the University of Toronto in Canada, is 
so concerned about the dangers of fluorosis that he claims fluoride 
toothpaste should be a prescription drug — at least until a child can spit, 
after the age of three. And even spitting is not foolproof; fluoride is 
absorbed directly into the body through the oral mucosa, notes Limeback. 
Poor nutrition can also raise the likelihood of dental fluorosis.' And if there 
is fluoride in the water supply, fluoride toothpaste may further increase 
the jeopardy. "Physicians have to get involved, Limeback insists. Before 
prescribing fluoride toothpaste, "you have to figure out, is this kid at risk 
for dental fluorosis? Better food, regular brushing and flossing, access to a 
dentist, and using nonfluoride toothpaste may be required. You can get 
perfectly healthy teeth with resistant enamel without having any kind of 
fluoride exposure, notes Limeback. (His son has dental fluorosis, and 
Limeback no longer keeps fluoride toothpaste in his home.) 


Newburgh Mayor Careys concern that dental fluorosis may signal more 
serious health problems is also warranted. We are now bathed in fluoride 
from cradle to grave, from industrial, dental, and a multitude of other and 
sometimes unexpected sources.' But the health implications of such 
long-term fluoride ingestion remain woefully underexamined. Dental 
fluorosis is a bio-marker for systemic fluoride poisoning during early 
childhood, notes Dr. Limeback. Teeth are windows to the rest of the 
body, adds Paul Connett, a chemistry professor and antifluoride 
campaigner at St. Lawrence University in New York, who likens the 
symptomatic nature of dental fluoro-sis to the thin blue gum line that can 
indicate lead poisoning.' Yet when scientists peer behind the polished 
facade of row upon row of brilliantly shining teeth to explore whether 
fluoride may be injuring us in other ways, they often get a rude surprise. 

In 1992 Dr. Joseph Lyon of the University of Utah coauthored a study 
published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found 
that water fluoridation was associated with an increased risk of hip 
fracture.' He was stunned at the lack of interest shown by U.S. 
public-health agencies in the study s results, and he has since found it 
difficult to get additional funding to further research this issue, he says. 
Today the United States has one of the highest rates of hip fracture in the 
world and is witnessing an epidemic of arthritis in 21 million Americans." 
Yet doctors are as likely to blame fluoride as flying saucers. My sense is 
there has been very little attention paid to toxicity, said Dr. Lyon. Almost 
on the grounds that it is an impossibility, and it is a waste of everybody s 
time and money to even think about it. (Subsequent studies have found 
similar associations between fluoride in water and bone fractures)." 

It is not just the elderly who are at risk. Fluoride may be weakening 
young peoples bones as well. In 2001 a study in Mexico reported that 
dental fluorosis was correlated with a higher incidence of bone fractures in 
children.' In the United States we now pay an annual half-billion-dollar 
hospital tab as a result of 775,000 childhood sports injuries. Although more 
young people are now playing sports — particularly girls, who have a high 
incidence of knee and ankle injuries — Dr. Lyon wonders whether the white, 
chalky blotches seen on teeth also predict the likelihood of a juvenile sports 
injury.' Is there some association [between childhood sporting 


injury and] living in a fluoridated area? he asked. There would be a 
plausible physiologic basis for it. 

The assurances that drinking fluoride for a lifetime would be harmless 
flowed strongest from Dr. Hodge s cold war laboratory at the University of 
Rochester. In 1954 he had poured oil on the troubled waters of the growing 
citizens movement opposing fluoridation — telling Congress that it would 
require ingesting 20-8o milligrams of fluoride each day for ten to twenty 
years before injury would occur. After hearing Hodge, Congress rejected 
the appeals to ban water fluoridation (see chapter 11). 

In the late 198os, however, two antifluoride activists, Martha Bevis and 
Darlene Sherrell, questioned the data Hodge had given Congress. By then 
Hodges numbers had mutated further and were now being draped by 
fluoride promoters over all possible adverse chronic health effects. The 
American Dental Association (ADA) stated in a pamphlet that the daily 
intake required to produce symptoms of chronic toxicity after years of 
consumption is 20 to 8o milligrams or more depending on weight. 15 

It was a plain falsehood. Sherrell wrote to the National Academy of 
Sciences (NAS) asking where the numbers had come from. This dogged 
researcher spotted that even Hodge had changed his data. Hodge stated in 
1979 that io mgs of fluoride a day — not 20 — would cause crippling 
fluorosis.' Hodge had given no accompanying explanation for why he had 
halved his estimate. In any case, the government and the ADA ignored 
Hodge s correction; they continued to use his higher estimate of the amount 
of fluoride one could safely consume in a day, even though Hodge himself 
had repudiated it.' 

It was only with the help of Florida's Senator Bob Graham that Sherrell 
won a response in 1990 from the NAS, to whom she pointed out the error. 
The persistence of the citizen activist paid off. Three years later, in lg93 the 
NAS National Research Council (NRC) published yet another fluoride 
report, entitled Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride. This time, although there 
was no accounting or apologizing for the forty years of false reassurances, 
the numbers were quietly corrected. Crippling skeletal fluorosis, the NRC 
stated, might occur in people who have ingested 10-20 mg of fluoride per 
day for 10-20 years.' 


It was an astonishing state of affairs. Two citizen activists, neither of 
them scientists, had torn away the flimsy garment that had concealed a 
half-century of scientific deception. The corrected 1993 NRC figures laid 
bare the facts: countless thousands of Americans have been exposed to 
dangerous levels of fluoride throughout their lives. In particular, the 
generation of baby boomers who have ingested a lifetime of fluoridated 
water and might more accurately be called Hodges Generation, may be 
suffering a variety of musculoskeletal and other health ailments that can be 
traced back to the toxicologist's false promise that fluoride in water was 

The whole thing is bogus, explained the former EPA and U.S. Army 
scientist Dr. Robert J. Carton. In 1985 he got a close look at what he calls 
the dangerous joke at the heart of the governments fluoride policy and the 
very real likelihood that fluoride is injuring our bones. That year EPA 
scientists, including Carton, were asked to set a new and higher national 
level for the publics permissible exposure to fluoride in drinking water. 
Until the EPA review Carton had not been aware the subject was 
controversial. I was just like everybody else, said Carton, it was a 
no-brainer — fluoride is completely safe and effective, all that kind of stuff. 

Under Reagan-appointee administrator William Ruckelshaus, EPA 
senior management had proposed raising the safe permissible level of 
fluoride in drinking water from 2.3 mg to 4 mg. They had a simple way of 
justifying this. The blotchy teeth — dental fluorosisproduced by as little 
as 1 mg of fluoride per liter, which worsened greatly and grew more brittle 
at 4 mg per liter, were deemed a harm-less "cosmetic" side effect. And 
despite the voluble protests of Car-ton, fellow EPA scientist Dr. William 
Hirzy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the EPA's employee 
union — Local 2050 of the National Federation of Federal 
Employees — the new national standard was approved. 

The EPA got away with it, says Carton — but only at the price of 
embarrassing its staff as professional scientists and jeopardizing the 
nations health. As Carton explains it, even according to the EPA's own 
figures, 3 percent of the population drink more than five liters of water a 
day. If that water contains 4 mg of fluoride — the supposedly safe new 
standard — then those thirsty people will cross the threshold at which even 
the EPA admitted severe health effects 


were likely to occur. You basically have a standard that, based on their 
own information, shows it is going to cause crippling skeletal fluorosis, 
says Carton. Of course, the 1993 revised estimate by the National Academy 
of Science for how much fluoride can cause crippling skeletal fluorosis is 
not 20 mg, but 10 mg. That means that the EPA standard is way off and 
would permit crippling bone injuries in a very great many people. They are 
really causing problems, Carton said. 

Moreover, the crippling fluorosis estimate specifies a limited time 
period of ten to twenty years for crippling fluorosis to appear. But fluoride 
is a poison that accumulates in the body over a lifetime. What happens 
when you get 10 mg a day for forty or sixty or even eighty years? In that 
case, you still reach the levels that cause crippling skeletal fluorosis, but at 
a later age. This simple consideration was not even addressed in the EPAs 
new exposure standard, says Carton, now retired. None of it makes sense. 
All you have to do is look at it for ten seconds and it falls apart, he 

Bone defects possibly linked to fluoride had been noticed at New 
-burgh back in 1955, after just ten years of water fluoridation. A radiologist, 
Dr. John Caffey of Columbia University, called the defects striking in 
their similarity to bone cancer. They were detected on X-rays and seen 
more than twice as frequently among boys in Newburgh as among boys in 
nonfluoridated Kingston. Caffe ys cancer suspicions, however, were not 
discussed in the 1956 Newburgh Final Report. In 1977 a National 
Academy of Sciences panel took a second look at Dr. Caffey's report, 
which had been published in 1955. The Newburgh cancer clue had "never 
been followed up," the experts said. "It would be important to have direct 
evidence that osteogenic sarcoma [bone cancer] rates in males under 30 
have not increased with fluoridation," the panel stated' 

Also in 1977 Congress discovered that despite a quarter-century of 
endorsing water fluoridation, federal health authorities had never 
cancer-tested fluoride. When cancer tests were finally performed twelve 
years later, it was found that fluoride caused excess bone cancers in young 
male rats. The government concluded that the results showed equivocal 
evidence that fluoride was a carcinogen." In truth, fluorides link to cancer 
may have been much stronger than authorities conceded. The 
above-mentioned tests also 


showed increased liver cancers in rats, but both the bone and liver cancer 
evidence was systematically downgraded, according to Dr. William 
Marcus, chief scientist at the EPAs Division of Water Quality." After Dr. 
Marcus aired those allegations in an interview on ABC News, he was fired 
(for supposedly unrelated reasons). But a federal judge later ruled that 
Marcus had been terminated because he had publicly questioned and 
opposed EPAs fluoride policy. The toxicologist was reinstated, and the 
government was ordered to pay damages. 24 Since then additional 
epidemiological studies have found more cancer in fluoridated areas, 
especially bone cancer in young men. 25 

Even the verdict of "equivocal" carcinogen is disturbing. Maybe 
fluoride doesn't cause cancer, but maybe it does. Is it worth the risk? 

How many cavities would have to be saved to justify the death of one 
man from osteosarcoma? asked the late Dr. John Colquhoun, the 
former chief dental officer of Auckland, New Zealand, and a fluoride 
promoter turned critic. 26 

Harold Hodge had also reassured American families about fluoride 
while secretly worrying about the chemical s effects on the central nervous 
system of nuclear workers. Today central-nervous-system illnesses shadow 
our young and old alike, with an epidemic of attention deficit and 
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, and with 4.5 million elderly 
citizens who are diagnosed with Alzheimer s dementia. The increase in 
Alzheimer s in the United States is largely attributed to the aging of the 
population, but "environmental" causes are also blamed. Does fluoride 
play a role in causing the disease? Quite possibly: In 1992 the American 
scientists Robert Isaacson, Julie Varner, and Karl Jensen found that 
fluoridated water carried aluminum into rat brains, producing 
Alzheimer's-like changes in brain tissue. 27 Phyllis Mullenix, who gave 
laboratory mice moderate doses of fluoride and generated symptoms 
resembling ADHD, fears that the high incidence of both diseases in the 
general population is direct evidence of fluorides toxic effects and that 
both the number and kind of such injuries may worsen in the coming years. 

I think we are going to see a lot more neurological problems that 
currently have no answers, Mullenix said. Extremes of behavioral 
problems are going to start showing up. There will be more children 


and people with unexplained convulsions, more unexplained cases of 
Alzheimer s and that kind of thing. 

There were other data on Newburgh s health that warranted concern. In 
the 1956 Newburgh Final Report, researchers noted that young women in 
Newburgh reached puberty at an earlier age than did girls in nonfluoridated 
Kingston. Laboratory experiments have recently reproduced similar 
fluoride effects in gerbils.' In other words, fluoride has the ability to impact 
the female reproductive system and may be lowering the age at which 
women are reaching puberty. And following the introduction of fluoride 
into city waters, Newburgh's heart-disease rate was found by researchers to 
be one of the highest in the United States, another fact missing from the 
official Final Report. 29 Heart disease also doubled just five years into the 
nation's other early fluoridation experiment, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 
Fluoride concentrates in the arteries, attracting calcium, and can contribute 
directly to their hardening, according to scientists. 30 The folly of adding 
fluoride to water supplies in a nation so burdened by heart disease would 
seem obvious. 

Mayor Carey now sees the 1945 "demonstration project in her 
hometown in a very different light. "The more I read and the more I listen, 
the more I understand that we were subjected to experimentation," Carey 
stated. The newly uncovered Manhattan Project documents about 
Newburgh suggest to Carey that her townspeople were not told the truth 
about the 1945 fluoride experiment. What happened to all of the samples 
that they took from me as a child?" she asked. Where did they end up? 
What were they taken for? Certainly it wasnt for preventative health care. 

Today some dentists are shocked to learn that a classic bait and switch 
was pulled on the public and on health professionals alike regarding the 
chemicals used in fluoridation. Pure sodium fluoride was used for the early 
Newburgh and Grand Rapids experiments, but today 90 percent of 
fluoridated public water supplies in the United States use not 
pharmaceutical-grade fluoride but industrial-grade silicofluoride 
"scrubbed" from the smokestacks of the Florida phosphate industry.' 
Important long-term toxicity tests have never been performed on these 
silicofluorides, although some studies have associated the chemical with 
higher levels of blood lead in children who live where they are used for 
fluoridation. Silicofluorides also 


frequently contain arsenic at levels that may present a risk of cancer, 
according to data from the National Academy of Sciences.' "You are 
sticking this poison into the water supply supposedly to prevent dental 
disease. It is not even doing that — and you are causing cancer just from 
the arsenic alone. This is totally criminal," argued the University of 
Toronto s Dr. Limeback. 

Even the Paley Commissions long-ago predictions that these 
silicofluorides produced by the Florida phosphate industry would become 
an important and valuable source of industrial fluoride have not come to 
pass (see chapter 11). Today most industrial fluoride used in the United 
States is the raw mineral fluospar, now mined and imported from China. 33 
For now, absent trouble with the Chinese and with a low price of fluorspar 
on world markets, silicofluoride waste from the Florida phosphate 
production is not used as an industrial raw material; rather, it is collected, 
billed to the taxpayer, and dumped into public water supplies around the 
country — all under the guise of protecting children s teeth." Whether a 
dentifrice, pollution-control measure, or cold war national security blanket, 
EPA chemist Dr. William Hirzy put the loony logic of such dumping of 
industrial silicofluorides this way: If this stuff gets out into the air, its a 
pollutant; if it gets into the river, its a pollutant; if it gets into the lake, its a 
pollutant; but if it goes right straight into your drinking water system, its 
not a pollutant. Thats amazing! 

While much of the medical profession in the United States remains 
ignorant about fluorides potential for harm, there are exceptions. 
Since 1968, scientists at the International Society for Fluoride 
Research (ISFR) have catalogued fluorides impact on human health 
and the environment. In scores of peer-reviewed papers, their journal 
Fluoride has linked the chemical to multiple human-health effects, 
including thyroid problems, Downs Syndrome, arthrititis, 
central-nervous-system effects, cardiovascular problems, and 
breathing difficulties." 

George Waldbott — who founded ISFR — believed that fluoride's 
ability to wreak such biological havoc was a function of its basic 
nature. Although the exact mechanism of action was then unknown, 
Waldbott speculated that fluoride buried deep into different organ 
systems and then disrupted the numerous chemical systems (such as 
enzymes) that regulate life. 


Waldbott may have been right. Enzymes are spectacularly sensitive to 
fluoride. In files that were only declassified in the mid-1990s it was 
revealed that in 1944 Harold Hodge's bomb-program 
researchers at the University of Rochester had experimented with hog liver 
enzymes to measure fluoride pollution in bomb factories. Fluoride was so 
much more toxic to the esterase enzyme than uranium that contamination 
by fluoride and uranium could easily be differentiated. And twenty years 
after George Wald-boa's death scientists may be on the brink of unlocking 
a crucial cellular mechanism for how fluoride acts on our bodies. That 
detective story has a disturbing twist. The aluminum industry has spilled a 
great deal of fluoride into the environment in the last century and has been 
closely associated with efforts to promote water fluoridation. Ironically, it 
may be that aluminum combined with fluoride is especially responsible for 
fluoride s toll on health and the environment. 

In 1994 the American scientists Alfred G. Gilman and Martin Rodbell 
won the Nobel Prize for discovering the importance of G-proteins in 
biology. The protein molecules act as biological amplifiers or relay stations, 
converting information received at a cells surface and producing changes 
inside that cell. For example, when we are angry, the adrenal gland 
produces the adrenaline hormone. When the hormone reaches the liver or 
the heart, the G-protein is activated, telling the organ to produce extra 
energy. The bad news is that G-proteins are easily fooled by aluminum and 
fluoride, which gang up violently and at a molecular level on our bodies, 
double-teaming for extra effect, according to the Czech scientist Anna 
Strunecka, a researcher at King Charles University in Prague. In an abstract 
titled Fluoride and Aluminum: Messengers of False Information, 
Strunecka reports: It appears probable that we will not find any 
physiological process which is not potentially influenced by 
[alumino-fluorides]. 37 She added, The synergistic action of fluoride and 
aluminum in the environment, water and food can thus evoke multiple 
pathological symptoms. 

The dangers of pumping fluoride and aluminum into our environment, 
and our duties to future generations are clear, according to the scientist. An 
awareness of the health risks of this new eco-toxicological phenomena ... 
would undoubtedly contribute 


significantly to reducing the risk of a decrease in intelligence of 
adults and children, and many other disorders of the twenty-first 
century, noted Strunecka. 

The Strange Case of the Missing Debaters 

THE POTENTIAL NUMBER of fluoride-linked health issues may be 
enormous." But the willingness of scientists to confront them is not. 
Fifty years of state propaganda have left too many scars and phobias. 
In the spring of 2001 scientist Tom Webster attempted to organize a 
debate about water fluoridation — and was unable to find anyone 
willing to speak in defense of the chemical. The Boston University 
environmental health professor had first grown curious about fluoride 
in the early 1990s, when his scientist friend Paul Con -nett had 
confided that he was worried about the potential negative health 
effects from small doses of fluoride to which Americans are regularly 

At first Webster himself had been dismissive about the issue of 
fluoride. My knee-jerk reaction was, "Oh man, what are you getting 
involved in that stuff for? They are all nuts, - he said. But then I 
stopped myself, and I said, Well, you know, I actually dont know 
anything about this. All I could remember was the Dr. Strangelove 
image and the John Birch Society. Their two big issues were get the 
U.S. out of the UN and stop water fluoridation. The more I thought 
about it, the more I thought, Here I am in the public health profession, 
I teach about this stuff, and I don't know anything about fluoride," he 
remembers. "It turns out there is a huge literature on this which I 
would never have guessed a couple of years ago. 

The professor was baffled. He did not know what to make of the 
gulf between the nice things the government said about fluoride and 
the worries of scientists such as Paul Connett. 39 He was especially 
perturbed by a study he read by a Dr. Phyllis Mullenix showing 
central-nervous-system effects in rats. "Is this bad?" he said. "My gut 
reaction was that I dont really like the sound of this. 

So Webster scheduled the fluoridation debate. He had joined a new 
group called the Association for Science in the Public Interest (ASIPI). 
The members were all professional scientists who had grown 
concerned that research was too often disconnected from 


the public interest. Now, as he scrambled to organize a debate at the groups 
first national conference in May 2001, Webster was scratching his head. 
Phone call after phone call, letter after letter, he got the same banged-door 
rejection from profluoridationists. He felt that many of their dismissals had 
a mechanical, Stepford-wife similarity that almost sounded as if they were 
reading from a common script. Several respondents had even been quite 
rude. I got a couple of really obnoxious replies like, How dare you even 
hold such an event, it is really unprofessional. One of those was from a guy 
at the CDC — one of the big fluoridation guys," said Webster. " It reminded 
me of the kind of stuff that you read about: "Advice to dentists on why they 
should never debate antifluoridationists.' It was that kind of thing." 

There were even whispers from his own group. A generation gap 
divided scientists, he realized. "One or two people inside the organization 
said, We really shouldnt have a thing on fluoride, it will give us a bad 
image,'" said Webster. While the younger researchers were willing to host 
the fluoride debate, Webster found that older members were gun shy as a 
result of the painful experiences many scientists and health professionals 
had undergone in the 19505 and 196os. It is our older colleagues who 
remember that stuff and how bad it was, and say This is just poison for 
your career, said Webster. This is an old battle from the '50s. " 

Even liberals in his organization shied from hosting the 2001 debate. It 
wasnt about science, it was about the politics, Webster said. Activist 
scientists already have a hard enough time in this world. Industry is trying 
to kill us and it is hard to survive in aca-demia. This is like, why push beans 
up your nose? 

The May 2001 debate in Virginia finally took place and was well 
attended, despite the lack of any profluoridation speakers, said Webster. 
His friend Paul Connett spoke. Most people did not know that there was an 
issue — fluoride is just not on the radar screen. If people like Connett are 
crazy, I would have loved to see the CDC people come and squash em like 
a bug. There seems to be almost a taboo about discussing this subject, and 
that really doesnt seem right in public health. 

Tom Webster is not alone in his frustration. That same year, in the fall of 
2001, a second scientists organization, the American Col- 


lege of Toxicology, hosted a Great Debate on water fluoridation at its 
annual Washington, DC, conference. Phyllis Mullenix was a speaker. 
Again, no one from the profluoride side would speak. The president of 
the organization, Robert E. Osterberg, had given the debate organizer 
many names and telephone numbers of scientists at leading drug 
companies; he was astonished that none of them showed up. I find it 
extremely difficult to believe, said Dr. Oster-berg, that companies 
that make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by putting fluoride 
into kids multiple vitamins wouldnt stand up there and justify why 
they are doing it, and answer any concerns that people may have. 


Blind to the Truth? 

Fifty years after Dr. Harold Hodge signed off on fluoride safety at Newburgh, 
we learned of a potentially disastrous biological threat posed by another 
class of fluorine chemicals known as perfluoro-chemicals (PFCs). PFCs 
are different from the fluorides discussed throughout the rest of the book, 
both in their chemical composition and in their toxicity.' But just like the 
fluorides in our toothpaste, PFCs — which include such brand names as 
Teflon, Gore-Tex, and Stainmaster — are an almost ubiquitous presence in 
our lives, found in numerous household products and employed in 
hundreds of industrial applications. And, once again, like fluoride, the story 
of how the toxicity of PFCs has been investigated or, more accurately, how 
that information has been suppressed, includes a disturbing link to the 
nation's nuclear program. 

ON MAY 16, 2000, the giant Minnesota-based industrial corporation 
3M made a startling and historic announcement: it was " voluntarily" 
withdrawing one of America's best-known household products, Scotchgard, 
from the market. With no current replacement available for the popular 
fabric protector and dirt repellant, and associated products, an estimated 
$320 million worth of 3M sales was being washed away. "Sophisticated 
testing capabilities," 3M explained in a press release, ". . . show that this 
persistent compound, like other materials in the environment, can be 
detected broadly at extremely low levels in the environment and in people. 
All existing scientific knowledge indicates that the presence of these 


materials at these very low levels does not pose a human health or 
environmental risk. 

3M deserves great credit for identifying this problem and coming 
forward voluntarily, announced the EPA Administrator, Carol 
Browner, in response. 

In truth, 3M had come forward about as "voluntarily" as a cornered 
tomcat in an alley. Behind the crafted public-relations spin of the 3M 
announcement lies a trail of exposed workers, a potentially profound 
threat to human health, a global environment once again polluted with 
a fluorine chemical, decades of corporate delay, and a staggering 
economic threat to a fluoropolymer industry with $2. 5 billion dollars 
in international sales. 2 

It was DuPont that first recognized the commercial potential of 
organofluorines. By mass-producing refrigerant gases in the 1920S 
that combined fluorine, carbon, and chlorine (CFCs), the corporation 
generated a twentieth-century financial windfall.' The Manhattan 
Project quickly commandeered the wizardry of DuPont's fluorine 
engineers during World War II, using its radical new supersecret PFC 
oils and seals to lubricate and protect the government machinery in the 
Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion plant. ( The per in perfluorinated means 
that the hydrogen atoms in a normal hydrocarbon chemical bond have 
been fully replaced with fluorine atoms. The chemical symbol H-C 
becomes F-C. That lock -tight fluorine-carbon clasp produced 
ultradurable chemicals that protected the government machinery from 
even elemental fluorine's corrosive powers.) 

After the war a cornucopia of wondrous new household 
products based on fluorocarbon technology — including plastics, 
aerosols, pharmaceuticals, waterproofers, pesticides, specialized 
lubricants, and firefighting foams — soon tumbled from the 
laboratories and vast research programs that had been assembled by 
industry and the U.S. military.' The ability of the man-made PFC 
molecules to resist water, oil, and highly corrosive chemicals, 
made them the unseen servant for a host of modern creature comforts. 
Today the same types of PFC polymer chains that once helped 
process uranium hexafluoride for the Manhattan Project carry 
fast-food French fries for McDonalds in greaseproof wrappers and 
allow spills to be wiped from carpets impregnated with DuPont s 


fabric protector. "It allows us to do so much which we now take for 
granted," said British scientist and fluoride historian Eric Banks. He 
dubbed fluorine the enabling element, for the bounty it con-tributes to 
modern living. 

However, just like DuPont's CFC refrigerants — which were once 
thought safe and inert but then tore a hole in the ozone layer — the 
manufacture and use of Scotchgard and other PFC chemicals may have 
very definite human health risks. By the end of the twentieth century not 
only had millions of tons of durable CFCs soared high into the stratosphere, 
but their PFC cousins had quietly penetrated deep into our bodies and 

In 1996 the scientists Theo Colborn and John Peterson Myers and the 
journalist Dianne Dumanoski published Our Stolen Future, examining the 
ways synthetic chemicals can mimic hormones and disrupt biological 
growth and development. The book was one of the most important 
scientific warnings of the modern era and prompted a government review 
of the "endocrine disrupting" potential of such chemicals. Incredibly, 
however, it contained not a single reference to PFCs. "We were not aware 
of them," Dr. Colborn told me. "These did not come on the radar until 
about six years ago." 

How could this have happened, scientists such as Colborn want to 
know. How could the toxicological significance of an entire class of 
industrial chemicals evade scientists for half a century, slipping under their 
radar and into our lives and bodies without an alarm bell sounding? "The 
[PFC] story is a public embarrassment to scientists and regulatory agencies 
around the world," said a University of Toronto researcher, Scott Mabury. 
"We know less about orga-nofluorine compounds in the environment in the 
year 2000 than we knew about chlorinated hydrocarbons when Rachael 
Carson wrote her book in 1960. That is pathetic. It is pathetic that [such] a 
compound could reach such high concentrations in human blood tissue and 
nobody know that it is bio-accumulative and that it is very persistent." 

As with fluoride, however, the problem has not been a lack of 
information on the health effects of PFCs. Instead, the problem is that the 
research data about PFC toxicity has not been shared with other scientists, 
federal regulators, or the public. DuPont, for example, has long known 
that its PFC chemicals pose a potential 


health risk to workers and consumers. At least two company workers were 
killed and many others sickened while making Teflon during the war (see 
chapter 4). Following the wartime deaths, and fearing lawsuits from 
exposed employees and local citizens, the Manhattan Project's Dr. Harold 
Hodge from the University of Rochester visited DuPont's Haskell 
Laboratory in 1944 to discover what DuPont knew about the toxicity of its 
organofluorines.' Following Hodge's visit to DuPont, organofluorines 
were promptly given a high research priority by the Rochester team. The 
bomb-program toxicologists were warned that in some cases the toxicity 
of the organofluorines was worse than that of fluoride.' But for years, 
though Rochester scientists knew that organofluorines were a threat, 
almost nothing appeared in the medical literature about the toxicity of 
these important chemicals. 

Instead, although health worries continued, the temptation to exploit 
PFCs for profit proved overwhelming. A 1955 DuPont company document 
entitled "Teflon — Health Hazards in Heating" notes that if Teflon is 
"heated above 400 degrees F (204 degrees C) . . . small quantities of 
harmful compounds are given off... . Consequently adequate ventilation 
must be provided at such temperatures. The concentrations of the volatile 
products necessary to produce harm have not been precisely established 
since it has not been possible to duplicate in animal tests the symptoms 
observed in humans" (emphasis added)! Nevertheless, on January 23, 1958, 
a Minneapolis lawyer, Harold D. Field, sought the medical advice of the 
Kettering Laboratory's Dr. Robert Kehoe. Field had a client who wanted to 
sell Teflon-lined pans in the United States, he explained. " DuPont has 
warned our client," Field wrote Kehoe, "that there may be some danger in 
the use of Teflon for this purpose." And later that year Dr. Albert Henne of 
Ohio State University contacted Kehoe. A Belgian company, Union 
Chimique Beige, also wanted to sell Teflon pots and pans in the United 
States, he told Kehoe. Henne had made some inquiries on the company's 

"You may be interested to learn that ... DuPont ... seems to have 
started a rehabilitation' campaign for fluoride in the food business," 
Henne told Kehoe. He had friends in the legal department at 
Frigidaire (the unit of General Motors that sold Freon-filled refrig- 
erators), Henne reported. They had assured him that "the sale of 


coated skillets does not require the formal permission of the Food and 
Drug Administration. As a precaution, however, would Dr. Kehoe act as 
a competent witness in case of a lawsuit? Henne asked. Kehoe agreed.' 

Where are the Atomic Energy Commission studies on the tox-icity of 
PFCs? As the Teflon gold rush got under way and nonstick pans became a 
fixture in our kitchens, it was not until 1968 — two decades after the 
Manhattan Projects Division of Pharmacology had made researching 
organofluorine toxicity a cold-war priority — that another University of 
Rochester fluoride scientist, Dr. Donald Taves, published the first data 
showing that organofluorines were accumulating in human blood. 10 Taves 
was a colleague of Dr. Harold Hodge, whose scientists at the University of 
Rochester had warned in 1946 that organic fluorine compounds appear to 
be more toxic than the fluoride ion." And although Taves even measured 
PFCs in his own body, he nevertheless issued a firm reassurance as to the 
toxicological significance of his disconcerting discovery. Other chemicals 
are usually not toxic in blood concentrations similar to those found here for 
organic fluorides." (At the same time Taves was also collaborating with 
one of the nuclear industry s big fluo-rocarbon suppliers, 3M.) 

Even today, retired in northern California, those Rochester reflexes 
remain strong. Dr. Taves agrees with the current safety reassurances from 
3M and DuPont: because fluorine and carbon form such a stable bond, 
their presence in the human body in low doses is of little health concern. 
"I'm not so sure that they needed to take Scotchgard off the market," Taves 
said. "That is a very inert chemical.'" 

Similar safety assurances paved the way for the penetration of PFCs 
into our homes and industry. As a result, while the global PFC industry is 
now a multi-billion-dollar enterprise, scientists are playing 
catch-up — filling a fifty-year void in the published data on PFC toxicity. In 
her 1962 book, Silent Spring, scientist Rachel Carson explained how 
so-called persistent organic pollutants (POPS), such as DDT or PCBs, can 
pass through the food chain from fish and birds to humans. 13 In the same 
manner PFCs can accumulate in the human body. The battle over PFCs is 
shaping up as what may be the Silent Spring of the early twenty-first 


"It is the most important chemical pollutant issue I know of, says former 
3M scientist Rich Purdy who, frustrated with 3M s lack of commitment to 
tackle the PFC issue, resigned in 1999 after nine-teen years of work with the 
company." PFCs are having an adverse impact on wildlife and possibly 
humans right now, Purdy adds. I think they rival the significance of the 
chemicals that Rachel Carson pointed to, adds a Michigan State scientist, 
Brad Upham. "I am personally puzzled as to why there is not much more 
concern about these compounds. (In an interview in September 2002 
Upham told me that there had never been a formal request by the National 
Institutes of Health for scientists to submit proposals to study the toxic 
effects of PFCs.) 

The strength of the carbonfluorine bond in PFCs means that these 
chemicals can last a very long time. Researchers fear that millions of 
people maybe absorbing the fluorine compounds through treated 
carpeting, clothing, and furniture and from industrial waste from 
factories that produce Teflon and similar products. The PFC known as 
perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), found in Scotchgard, redefines the 
meaning of persistence, notes the University of Toronto s Scott A. 
Mabury. It doesnt just last a long time; it likely 
lasts forever." 16 

The global reach of PFCs was revealed in the late 1990s, when 3M 
measured the level of PFC chemicals in blood samples taken from across 
the United States and in Europe. The company compared the results with 
older blood samples taken from Korean war veterans in the 1950s, 
predating 3M's introduction of Scotchgard. These samples, in comparison, 
were uncontaminated by the chemical.' Researchers from the University of 
Michigan have also found PFCs in mink, eagles, arctic polar bears, and 
albatrosses in the Pacific Ocean. 18 "The occurrence of [such chemicals in] 
albatrosses suggests the widespread distribution of [the chemical] in 
remote locations," the scientists reported. 19 

Perhaps most disturbingly, the environmental "sink" — or final 
resting place — of many PFCs is the blood, where they bind to protein 
and then accumulate in the liver and gallbladder. 20 (Unlike DDT or 
PCBs, which accumulate in body fat and soil, PFCs are resistant to fat 
or water. That is what makes them such good waterproofers and fabric 
protectors.) It can be like global warming, Rich Purdy told 


me. What we produced twenty years ago, we still haven t harvested those 
effects yet. The peak hasnt hit. 

The corporate suppression of information about the human health risks 
from PFCs was spelled out in internal documents of the DuPont Company 
only made public in 2002. According to medical studies and memos 
(reaching as far back as April 1981), DuPont researchers had recorded 
birth defects in children born to PFC workers at its Teflon plant in 
Parkersburg, West Virginia. The documents, which were posted on the 
Internet by the activist Environmental Working Group (EWG) in 
Washington, DC, revealed that the eyes of some DuPont workers' children 
were malformed and that there was widespread contamination of the local 
drinking-water supply by the PFC chemical used to make Teflon, 
perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA]. 21 Scandalously, and almost certainly 
illegally, DuPont never reported the birth defects nor the drinking-water 
contamination to the EPA or the local community. 


The EPA has grown increasingly concerned about PFC toxicity. B In 
May 2003 the agency formally asked DuPont to explain why the West 
Virginia drinking-water and birth-defect data had never been reported to 
the federal regulators. DuPont's attorney, Andrea V. Malinowski, wrote 
back, arguing that the birth defects could not "reliably" be linked to 
PFCs — and therefore did not require that the EPA be informed — and that 
the levels of PFCs in drinking water were too low to tell the public about. 24 
That's a simple falsehood, claimed the EWG, which wants DuPont 
criminally punished for its actions. 25 The EWG says that DuPont clearly 
saw the possibility that PFC exposure was linked to the birth defects. 
Indeed, the company had first examined the health of worker's babies after 
receiving a 3M laboratory study in March 1981, which showed that PFOA 
caused eye defects in rats. According to a DuPont document, DuPont's 
review of children's health had been conducted to answer "a single 
question" — "does C-8 [PFOA] exposure cause abnormal children?' 

"We definitely do have concerns based on the toxicity data that has 
been submitted," noted Mary Dominiak, the chair of the fluo-rocarbon 
work group at EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. I cant 
really go further than that because we are currently in the process of 
updating the hazard assessment. 


The willingness of the EPA to review the human health risks from PFCs 
comes at the same time that federal regulators are also studying the basic 
issue of fluoride safety, promising to revisit the battlefields of a 
half-century of pitched conflict over water fluori-dation and industrial 
fluoride pollution. On Tuesday, August 12, 2003, in a cramped room in the 
National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, DC, a newly 
formed panel of the National Research Councils (NRC) Committee on 
Toxicology listened to fluoride safety reassurances from the Centers for 
Disease Control. They also heard a lengthy criticism of existing safety 
standards from chemistry professor Paul Connett, a spokesperson for the 
activist lobbying group Fluoride Action Network. At issue is the EPA's 
official standard for how much fluoride should be permitted in the public 
water supply. In 1993, despite a hornets nest of protest from some of its 
own scientists, the EPA decided to maintain the maximum contaminant 
level (MCL) at the level it had set in : 984~4 parts per million. Included in 
that decision, however, was the caveat that the official standard could be 
revised if additional scientific studies raised further doubts about fluoride 
safety. At the public hearing in Washington, Paul Connett pointed out that 
several new studies had been published since 1993, including Phyllis 
Mullenixs animal experiments at the Forsyth Dental Center, more recent 
studies from China that have found similar central-nervous-system effects 
in human beings, and an EPA study that reported that fluoridated water 
helped to carry aluminum into rats' brains, producing Alzheimer s-like 

According to longtime observers of America's fluoride wars, it is 
possible that a sea change in federal policy toward water fluorida-tion may 
be taking place. Harold Hodge was once the chairman of the NRCs 
Committee on Toxicology; as recently as 1993 the NRC fluoride panel had 
rubber-stamped his assurances of fluoride safety. But the new panel 
includes scientists and academics — Kathy Thies sen and Tom Webster, for 
example — who have all questioned the wisdom of water fluoridation; 
another member, Robert Isaacson, was part of the team that linked fluoride 
and aluminum to the Alzheimer-like lesions in rat brains. Bette Hileman, a 
reporter for Chemical and Engineering News who attended the hearing, 
stated that Paul Connett s presentation was even greeted with applause 


from the panel. This is highly unusual at an NAS/NRC meeting, Hileman 
remarked. I would be very surprised if the new NAS report turns out to be 
a repeat of the one in 1993. The situation has changed." 

But the fluoride lobby remains powerful. In the United Kingdom the 
Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair is promoting legislation 
that would give private water utilities immunity from fluoride-related 
lawsuits, in a bid to encourage them to fluoridate more communities. For 
these water companies, such immunity is a key legal requirement if they 
are to proceed with more fluoridation. In 1996 the toothpaste manufacturer 
Colgate made a £1000 payment to Sharon and Trevor Isaacs, of Highams 
Park, Essex, whose son Kevin suffered from dental fluorosis. Colgate 
acknowledged no liability for the dental damage, although there were 
hundreds of pending cases of British children with fluorosis-damaged teeth 
seeking compensation. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that 
"Water companies have fought against fluoride amid fears of 
litigation." 28 

A great deal is at stake in the NRC review, certainly more than at first 
meets the eye. The pressure on the EPA to tighten safety standards for 
water will inevitably bring fresh scrutiny for industrial fluoride users. 
As Alcoa's Frank Seamans and his band of Fluorine Lawyers knew, the 
federal governments support of water fluoridation was extraordinarily 
helpful to corporate America, bolstering industry's legal defense against 
workers' and citizens' claims of industrial fluoride poisoning. The reverse 
is also true. If the government admits that fluoride in water is not as safe as 
they had once reassured us, then industry's fig leaf is jeopardized. 

So will the EPA lower the boom on the industrial fluoride polluters? It 
still doesn't look good. The agency's August 2003 ruling on air pollution, 
which allows some 17,000 industrial facilities to escape the 
pollution-control requirements of the Clean Air Act, means that big 
fluoride polluters, such as coal-burning power stations and aluminum 
smelters, can continue to vent tens of thousands of tons of hydrogen 
fluoride gas over our homes and farms. 

It is America's industrial workers that most need the protection of 
regulators. The 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act guarantees 
citizens a safe workplace. But eight years before that law was 


signed, the Kettering dog study showed that inhaled fluoride causes 
lung and lymph-node damage. The recent unearthing of that 
long-buried study prompted two leading toxicologists, Robert Phalen 
and Phyllis Mullenix, to claim that the current standard for occu- 
pational exposure to fluoride is almost certainly too high. And with the 
recent report that emphysema — a key injury in Robert Kehoes 
fluoride-breathing dogs — is much more prevalent among industrial 
workers than once imagined, the inability of federal standard-setters to 
locate a single animal study to justify their current safety standard is 
especially concerning. 29 

Industry will in all likelihood fight any revision to the water fluoride 
safety standard. This fierce desire to maintain the existing permissive 
standards was suggested by the presence of several representatives from 
the EPA's pesticide division at the NRC public meeting. Dow Chemical is 
currently using sulfuryl fluoride as a pest fumigant to replace the 
ozone-depleting methyl bromide. If the fluoride safety standard for water is 
toughened, Dow's efforts to lobby the EPA to allow increased fluoride 
residues on our fruit and vegetables will almost certainly be challenged. 

As Paul Connett notes, replacing methyl bromide with sulfuryl fluoride 
is a dubious proposition. "In animal studies it damages the white matter in 
the brain," Connnet explains. "So Dow is proposing to replace a chemical 
that causes holes in the ozone layer with one that causes holes in the brain! 
Some trade-off. 30 



I AM A pharmacologist and my interest in the fluoridation issue goes back 
to the sixties, seventies, and eighties when the addition of fluoride to the 
public water supplies was discussed in Sweden. During that period I 
studied the scientific literature and the arguments for and against water 
fluoridation thoroughly. My conclusion was clear: Fluoride is a 
pharmacologically very active compound with an action on a variety of 
enzymes and tissues in the body already in low concentrations. In 
concentrations not far above those recommended it has overt toxic actions. 
Fluoride added to the drinking water can prevent caries to some extent but 
it can do so at least as efficiently when applied locally. Moreover, local 
treatment, preferentially via toothpaste, is more rational, because the 
caries-preventive action is exerted directly on the erupted teeth. The 
previous belief that its action is limited to an early period before the 
eruption of the teeth, is not correct. The systemic action of fluoride via the 
blood before tooth eruption can lead to damage of the enamel, and mottled 
teeth. This side effect, as well as other toxic actions of fluoride, is very 
much reduced when fluoride is applied via toothpaste. 

The addition of fluoride to water supplies violates modern 
pharmacological principles. Recent research has revealed a sometimes 
enormous individual variation in the reponse to drugs. If a 
pharmacologically active agent is supplied via the drinking water, the 
individual variation in response, which is considerable even when the 
dosage is fixed, will be markedly increased by the individual variation in 
water consumption. In addition, this measure is ethically questionable and 
unnecessarily expensive. When the fluoridation issue was debated in 
Sweden several decades ago I took part in the public debate, and we 
managed to convince the Swedish Parliament that the addition of fluoride 
to the water supplies should be rendered illegal. Similar decisions have 
been taken in most European countries. There is to my knowledge no evi- 


dence to suggest that dental health in Europe is worse than in the 
United States. 

During the past two decades water fluoridation has not been debated 
much in Sweden, and I have not followed the scientific literature in this 
area closely. I have now read several chapters in Christopher Brysons 
book and have found them quite interesting. Christopher Bryson is an 
excellent narrator, and he reports on recent research previously not 
known to me. Especially I am intrigued by the story about Phyllis 
Mullenix and her animal research on the influence of fluoride on 
behavior and brain development. I am not surprised by the resistance 
that Phyllis Mullenix so unfortunately experienced. Novel and 
surprising observations are often met with disbelief by the scientific 
community, and in this case the prestige of influential people is 
probably an additional factor. 

It is my sincere hope that Christopher Brysons apparently thorough and 
comprehensive perusal of the scientfic literature on the biological actions 
of fluoride and the ensuing debates through the years will receive the 
attention it deserves and that its implications will be seriously considered. 
Dr. Arvid Carlsson, 2000 Nobel Laureate for 
Physiology or Medicine (for discoveries concerning 
signal transduction in the nervous system) 

FOLLOW WERE good enough to grant me interviews, and their 
comments are reproduced throughout: 

David Ast, July 16, 1997, July 31, 2002, and August 1, 2002 

Eric Banks, April 23, 2001 

Edward L. Bernays, December, 1993 

Eula Bingham, July 15, 2002 

George Blackstone, February 25, 2002 

Lisa M. Brosseau, July 22, 2002 

Georg Bran, March 19, 2001 

Audrey Carey, January 2, 2002 

Robert J. Carton, September 21, 2002 

Theo Colborn, December 9, 2002 Mike 

Connett, February 7, 2004 Maria 

Constantini, March 22, 2002 Pamela 

DenBesten, February 13, 2001 Mary 

Dominiak, September 12, 2002 

John Fedor, May 10, 2001 and October 28, 2001 

Hymer Friedell, October 29, 2001 Margaret B. 

W. Graham, May 14, 2002 Dan Guttman 

November 8, 2001 John "Jack" Hein, March 21, 

2001 William Hirzy, September 16, 2002 John 

Hoffman, July 27, 2003 

Glen Howis, March 25, 1993 Allen 
Hurt, October 27, 2001 

Donald E. Hutchings, June 13, 2002 

Jerry Jones, October 20, 2000 Joe Kanapka, November 27, 2002 
Kuranthachalam Kannan, September 12, 2002 Allen Kline, 
March 24, 1993 Arnold Kramish, October 12, 2001, and July 26, 

Edward Largent Jr., February 11, 2002 


Hardy Limeback, September 26, 2002 

Henry Lickers, spring 1993 

Joseph L. Lyon, December 4, 2001, and August 8, 2002 

James MacGregor, November 19, 2002 

Judith MacGregor, June 25, 2002 

Arjun Makhijani, May 25, 2001 

Ekaterina Mallevskia, August 6, 2002 

William J. Marcus, June 14, 2001 Scott 

Mabury, September 13, 2002 Sal 

Mazzanobile, November 27, 2001 

James Bruce McMath, September 13, 2001, and March 1, 2002 

Gabrielle V. Michalek, January 20, 2004 

Paul Morrow, November 19, 2003 

Phyllis J. Mullenix, multiple occasions including filmed interview 

February 20, 1999 Olive Mullenix, May 
19, 2001 Ralph Nader, spring 1993 Antonio 
Noronha, summer 1997 Stata Norton, May 19, 
2001 Robert E. Osterberg, November 13, 
2001 Michelle Peace, June 2, 2002 Diane 
Peebles, October 22, 2001 Robert Phalen, 
March 26, 2002 Henry Pointer, October 27, 

2001 Gloria Porter, October 28, 2001 Dick 
Powell, April 23, 2001 Rich Purdy, 
September u, 2002 Karin Roholm, May 2001 
Philip Sadtler, March 23, 1993 Ted Schettler, 
June 12, 2002 Bill Schempp, March 24, 1993 
Gladys Schempp, March 24, 1993 Steve 
Silverman, June 18, 2002 John L. Smith, 
October 27, 2001 George David Smith, May 8, 

2002 Karen Snapp, December 1, 2001 Lynne 
Page Snyder, May 4, 1998 J. Newell Stannard, 
December 3, 2002 


James Swindoll, March 4, 2002 

Donald Taves, June 27, 2002 

Kathleen M. Thiessen, June 27, 2001, and August 12, 2002 Brad 

Upham, September 11, 2002 Henry Urrows, June 10, 2002 Sam 

Vest, June 24, 2001 Tommy Ward, October 20, 2000 Tom 

Webster, May 31, 2002 Ken Weir, September 17, 2002 Alan 

Williams, October 20, 2000 

Two archives were the main sources of documentary information for this 
book. The first, the University of Cincinnati's Medical Heritage Center, 
houses the unpublished medical studies of the Kettering Laboratory of 
Applied Physiology and the papers of its director, Robert Arthur Kehoe. 
This archive is cited here as the RAK Collection. 

The second, which houses the archives of the Manhattan Project and the 
Atomic Energy Commission, is the National Archives and Records 
Administration (NARA). The Atlanta branch of NARA is cited here as the 
Atlanta Federal Research Center (FRC). Documents from the President's 
Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (ACHRE) — a 
primary source of information on the University of Rochester and Harold 
Hodges human experimentation — are also deposited at NARA. The papers 
of the S-l Executive Committee of the Office of Science, Research, and 
Development (OSRD) are located in NARA's Record Group 227. 

Additional Manhattan Project and AEC files came from the Oak Ridge 
Operations Information Office (ORO) and courtesy of the primary research 
of Pete Eisler of USA Today. Joel Griffiths and Clifford Honicker also 
uncovered documents from the Manhattan Project and the AEC, most 
notably on the Peach Crop Cases, in the personal papers of General Leslie 
Groves, on file at NARA. Additional AEC papers were retrieved by 
Honicker from the University of Rochester. In the text and notes, 
documents from these researchers and sources are cited as: "via Honicker 
and Griffiths." 

Documents from online search engine-derived archives of the 
Department of Energy's Human Radiation Experiments Information 


Management System are noted here as HREX. 

The papers of fluoride historian and ADA pamphlet writer Don and 
McNeil are at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison. At that 
same archive is an important collection of documents from Alcoa on the 
early history of fluoride research in the United States. 

The National Security Archive at George Washington University houses 
the supporting documents for John Marks's book on CIA drug 
experimentation, Search for the Manchurian Candidate (New York: Times 
Books, '979) 

The court record of the Martin trial is located in NARA Record 
Group 276, Boxes 5888 to 5890. 

The files of the Buhl Foundation relating to its early funding of 
dental research at the Mellon Institute are at the Senator John Heinz 
Pittsburgh Regional History Center in Pittsburgh. 

The papers of Ruth Roy Harris on the history of the National Institutes 
of Dental Research are in the History of Medicine Division at the National 
Library of Medicine. 

The Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York was a 
source for information on Kaj Roholm's trip to the United States, on 
early funding of dental studies at the University of Rochester, and on 
the Committee to Protect our Children's Teeth. The files of the 
Carnegie Corporation in New York City provided information on the 
early history of dental research in the United States. 

The Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri, houses the 
personal papers of Oscar Ewing and the papers of the President's Materials 
Policy Commission, also known as the Paley Commission. 

Documents on the history of the Industrial Hygiene Foundation are 
located at the Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, with additional papers from 
the Mellon Institute deposited at Carnegie Mellon Library. 

Charles Kettering's personal papers are at the Kettering University 
in Flint, Michigan, in the Richard P. Scharchburg Collection. 

The online archive of the Environmental Working Group was a primary 
source for documents relating to the history of perfluo-rinated chemicals, 
and for the archives of the Chemical Manufactures Assocication (CMA). 


Unpublished information on the Donora disaster came courtesy of the 
late Allen Kline of Webster, Pennsylvania. 

An extraordinary resource was the web site of the Fluoride Action 
Network (, with its comprehensive and accessible 
collection of medical studies, news reports and analysis. 

Transcripts from the George Bareis, et al vs. Reynolds Metals trial in 
Arkansas which took place during October 2000 in the Saline County 
court, were kindly provided by the law offices of James Bruce McMath. 

Finally, Martha Bevis of Houston, Texas was able to furnish me with an 
extraordinary library of information on the history of the fight against 
fluoridation in the United States. 


1. "Muskie Hearings": Hearings before a subcommittee on air and water pollution of the 
committee on public works of the U.S. Senate, 59th Congress, June 7-15, 1966 
(Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office), pp. 113-343. 

Note on Terminology 

1. For volatility: "At atmospheric pressure C-216 may combine with 

almost all known elements, with almost explosive rapidity, giving off extreme heat." 
Manhattan Project Memo, "Safety and Health Conference on Hazards of C-216 (Code for 
Fluorine)" To: Safety Section Files. RHTG Classified Doc, 1944-94, Box 166, Building 
2714-H, Vault #82761. Such violence also makes fluorine difficult to isolate. Although it 
is the thirteenth-most abundant element in the earth's crust, it was not until 1886 that a 
French scientist, Henri Moissan, was finally able to segregate the volatile element. R. E. 
Banks, "Isolation of Fluorine by Moissan: Setting the Scene," J. Fluorine Chem., vol. 33 
(1986), pp. 1-26. 

2. J. Emsley et al., "An unexpectedly strong hydrogen bond: Ab initio 

calculations and spectroscopic studies of amide-fluoride systems," J. Am. Chemical Soc, 
vol. 103, (1981), pp. 24-28. 

3. The National Research Council, for example, "uses the term "fluoride' 

as a general term everywhere, where exact differentiation between ionic and molecular 
forms or between gaseous and particulate forms is uncertain or unnecessary." Biological 
Effects of Atmospheric Pollutants: Fluorides (National Academy of Sciences, 1971), p. 3. 


1. Said Ralph Nader: "Once the U.S. government fifty years ago decided to push fluoridation, 
they stopped doing what Alfred North White-head once said was the cardinal principle 
of the scientific method, and that is to leave options open for revisions, and it became a 
party line, it became a dogma, and they weren't interested in criticism." 


1. L. Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations (New 
York: Crown, 1998). 


2. From 1957 to 1968, fluoride was responsible for more damage claims than 

all twenty other major air pollutants combined, according to U.S. National Academy of 
Sciences member Edward Groth. N. Groth, "Air Is Fluoridated," Peninsula Observer, 
lanuary 27-February 3, 1969. See chapter 15 for a list of fluoride damage suits and 
comparison with other air pollutants. 

3. See chapters 7, 9, 10, and n. 

4. For fluoride synergy, see A. S. Rozhkov and T. A. Mikhailova, "The Effect of 

Fluorine-Containing Emissions on Conifers," The Siberian Institute of Plant Physiology 
and Biochemistry, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, trans. L. 
Kashhenko (Springer- Verlag, 1993), excerpted on the Fluoride Action Network website. 
Also, Herbert E. Stokinger et al., "The Enhancing Effect of the Inhalation of 
Hydrogen Fluoride Vapor on Beryllium Sulfate Poisoning in Animals," UR-68, 
University of Rochester, unclassified; and N. Groth, "Fluoride Pollution," Environment, 
vol. 17, no. 3 (April/May 1975) pp. 22-38. For "Greatest health advance," see A Century 
of Public Health: From Fluoridation to Food Safety, CDC, Division of Media Relations, 
April 2, 1999. For "Pollution and chemical poisoning of children," see chapters 1, 2, and 

5. See chapter 3. 

6. See chapters 9 and 3. 

7. See chapters 4 through 8. 

8. Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2001, section A, p. 1. 

9. See chapters 9 through 16. 

10. The papers of Dr. Harold Hodge of the University of Rochester are closed. 

Archibald T. Hodge to Mr. J. B. Lloyd, University Archives and Special Collections, 
Hoskins Library (University of Tennessee), July 7, 1996: "Regarding your letter of June 
19, 1996, concerning my father Harold C. Hodge's archives, they will be deposited in 
total at the University of Rochester Medical Center when a room dedicated to his files is 
ready." Those of Dr. Ray Weidlein, director of the Mellon Institute, are missing. 
Gabrielle V. Michalek, the head of archive centers at Carnegie Mellon University, 
which holds some of the Mellon Institute papers, explained to me that Weidlein had 
instructed a previous archivist to "throw the papers in the Dumpster." For more on 
blackballing, see chapter 12. 

11. Nile Southern interviewed by Russ Honicker, transcript supplied by 


12. See chapter 12. 

13. Holland discontinued fluoridation in 1976. Water fluoridation was discon- 

tinued in West Germany after 19505. B. Hileman, "Fluoridation of Water," Chemical 
and Engineering News, vol. 66 (August 1, 1988), pp. 26-42. It was also banned in the 
former East Germany following reunification. 

14. "A systematic review of public water fluoridation," The York Review, NHS 

Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York (2000). For the 65 percent 
reduction in cavities claim, see Oscar Ewing's rationalization for national water 
fluoridation: Oscar Ewing, "Oral History Interview ," by 


J. R. Fuchs of the Truman Library, Chapel Hill, NC, April and May 1969 

( interview available online). 
15. Interview with Paul Connett, posted on the Fluoride Action Network website. 
16 For example, "Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental 

BsaMe {MWvt^teMi^^M^u^y, 2001. g. L . 

Waldbott, A. W. Burgstahler, and H. L. McKinney, Fluoridation: The Great 
Dilemma (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1978), 149-151. 

Chapter 1 

1. Jack Hein, author interview, March 21, 2001. Reluctant to give me a formal 
interview, Hein nevertheless made several comments that have been incorporated here. 
Mullenix had been teaching at Harvard and doing research in the laboratory of Dr. 
Herbert Needleman, who was famous for proving that low levels of lead in gasoline 
would harm children's intelligence. 

2. Hein told the British TV journalist Bob Woffinden in 1997 that the compound had 
been invented by a German chemist, Willy Lange, who was work ing in Cincinnati. A 
chemist from the Ozark Mahoning company, Wayne White, had then brought MFP to 
Rochester. According to Hein, "When Wayne White first came to Rochester with the 
compound, Harold Hodge looked at it and said, "Well, I wonder if it's a nerve gas or is 
it going to prevent tooth decay?'" (tape time code, 04.31.15, 1997). See also the 
important essay discussing the ability of fluoro-chemicals to inhibit enzyme activity. 
Willy Lange (The Procter and Gamble Company), "The Chemistry of Fluoro Acids of 
Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Group Elements," Fluorine Chemistry, vol. 1 , ed. J. H. 
Simons (New York, NY: Academic Press, 1950), 125. 

3. Hein was also a luminary in such influential dental organizations as the International 
Association for Dental Research (IADR). According to Phyllis Mullenix, he had 
raised funds to build a Washington headquarters for IADR. 

4. Hein had been a graduate student under Harold Hodge at the University of Rochester 
in the 1950s. He told the British TV journalist Bob Woffinden, " We got involved with 
fluoride because Harold Hodge was interested from his connection over at the 
Manhattan Project." Interview tape time code 04.26.49, 1997. 

5. V. O. Hurme, "An Examination of the Scientific Basis for Fluoridating 

Populations," Dent. Items of Interest, vol. 74 (1952), pp. 518-534. 

6. Commemorative plaque at the annex entrance, noting that the industrial donors 
listed had "insured completion." Also, p. 7 of Forsyth Dental Center brochure, 
undated: "from 1969 through 1979 ... federal support for the research programs at 
Forsyth increased threefold and support from industrial grants increased twofold." 

7. Wall Street Journal, June 13, 1986, p. 25. 

8. Ibid. 

250 NOTES TO CHAPTER 1 / PP. 5-15 

9. Letter of recommendation from Mehlman on Agency for Toxic Substances 

and Disease Registry letterhead, May 31, 1992. "Of the many scientists with whom I have 
worked, I consider Professor Mullenix to be one of the most talented I have known. I have 
the highest regard for her scientific ability and integrity," Melman added. 

10. In 1994 Phyllis Mullenix sued the dental center alleging, among other 
things, sexual discrimination. The suit was settled out of court under 
terms which neither Mullenix not Forsyth are permitted to discuss. 
Although Mullenix will not discuss her lawsuit, Karen Snapp is blunt 
about the "dark side" of Forsyth, describing "an old boys club" where 
chauvinism and bad science mixed freely. She described to this writer sev 
eral instances of crude sexual harassment at Forsyth and the occasionally 
sloppy professionalism of some of her colleagues. "I would not describe 
the atmosphere [at Forsyth] as being highly scientific," she said. "It was 
very strange, it was very uncomfortable. There were totally incompetent 
people there who were doing quite well because they played the game. 
They kind of decided what the results were going to be. If they did not get 
the result, they would either modify the experiment to give them the 
result, or just forget about it." 

Chapter 2 

1. Harold Hodge died on October 8, 1990. 

2. The New York Times, December 16, 2002, obituary of Florence S. Mahoney. 

3. In the 1920S in the United States, for example, between 11 and 16 million out of 22 
million school children had defective teeth. Similar conditions were found in the United 
Kingdom. "In the England of the past the teeth were not as frail or as troublesome as 
today," Sir James Crichton-Brown told dentists in 1892, after describing the many studies 
that had found uniformly bad teeth among British children. Dental health in 1920S, 
estimate of the Joint Committee on Health Problems of the National Educational 
Association and the AMA, cited in letter from Dr. William Gies to Dr. F. C. Keppel of the 
Carnegie Corporation, November 18, 1927, Dental Research Program, Box 121, Carnegie 
Grants Ilia, Carnegie Archive Collection. For United Kingdom, see J. Crichton-Browne, 
"An address on tooth culture," Lancet, vol. II (1892), p. 6. 

4. J. S. Lawson, J. H. Brown, J. H. and T. I. Oliver, Med. J. Aust., vol. (1978), pp. 
124-125. Cited in M. Diesendorf, "The Mystery of Declining Tooth Decay," Nature, vol. 
32 (July 1986), pp. 125-129. Falling dental-decay rates presented a dilemma for some in 
the United States, it seems. A researcher at the Forsyth Dental Center apparently warned, 
"Recall the European data, for example, which shows declines in caries which are 
occurring without fluoridation and, indeed, seem to rival the effects obtainable with 
fluoridation. This could easily become ammunition for the antifluoridationists." Cited in 
e-mail to 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 2 / PP. 15-16 251 

Hardy Limeback dated May 15, 2003, from Myron Coplan, of Natick, MA, 

who explained that he had received the comments directly by mail from the 

office of Paul DePaola at the Forsyth Center in the early 198os. 

5. See especially J. D. B. Featherstone, "Prevention and Reversal of Dental Car 

ies: Role of Low Level Fluoride," Community Dent. Oral Epidemiol., vol. 27 ( 1999), 

pp. 31 — 40. Also, "Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control 

Dental Caries in the United States," Fluoride Recommendations Work Group, CDC 

(August 2001). 

Linking fluoride to better teeth was not a new idea. As early as 1892 there had 6. 

been medical speculation that because fluoride was found in dental enamel, 

it was necessary for strong teeth. In 1925 scientists at Johns Hopkins University 

tested that theory by feeding rats fluoride. They were disappointed; the fluoride 

made the teeth weaker, not stronger. They found, "contrary to our expectations, that 

the ingestion of fluorine in amounts but little above those which have been reported 

to occur in natural foods, markedly disturbs the structure of the tooth." E. V. 

McCollum, N. J. E. Simmonds, and R. W. Bunting, "The Effect of Addition of 

Fluorine to the Diet of the Rat on the Quality of the Teeth," J. Biol. Chem., vol. 63 

(1925), p. 553. In 1938 the biochemist Wallace Armstrong of the University of 

Minnesota may well have contributed to the confusion. He reported that teeth with 

fewer cavities had more fluoride in them. W. D. Armstrong and P. J. Brekhus, 

"Chemical Composition of Enamel and Dentin. II. Fluorine Content," J. Dent. Res., 

vol. 17 (1938), p. 27. 

That data was, in turn, cited by Gerald Cox (whom we will meet in the next 

chapter) along with Dean's work and his own, permitting him to conclude that "the 

case for fluoride should be regarded as proved." That was not the conclusion of the 

editorial writers at the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), who 

noted after reading Dean's study that "the possibility is not excluded that the 

composition of the water in other respects may be the principal factor." Dean also said 

that other differences in the mineral composition of the water in the study 

cities — especially calcium and phosphorus — were a factor that should not be 

overlooked. H. T. Dean, " Endemic fluorosis and Its Relation to Dental Caries," 

Public Health Reports, vol. 53 (August 19, 1938), p. 1452. Cited in G. L. Waldbott, A 

Struggle with Titans (New York: Carlton Press, 1965), p. 13. But in 1963 one of the 

three planks in Cox's argument collapsed when Wallace Armstrong realized that he 

had gotten it wrong — increased fluoride in the teeth was a function of age and his 

earlier simple equation of fewer cavities and greater fluoride content was therefore 

invalid. "Age as a factor in fluoride content was not then (in 1938) appreciated." W. D. 

Armstrong and L. Singer, "Fluoride Contents of Enamel of Sound and Carious Teeth: 

A Reinvestigation," J. Dental Res., vol. 42 (1963), p. 133. Cited in Waldbott, A 

Struggle with Titans, p. 119. As we shall see, fluoride's ability to poison enzymes has 

long been fingered 

by scientists as a main pathway of its various toxic effects. 7. 

252 MOTES TO CHAPTER 2 / PP. 17-20 

8. Fluoridation has been routinely used by bureaucrats to win tax dollars for 

the NIH and private research institutions. For example, while seeking funding for the 
entire NIH, Director Dr. Harold Varmus said in 1994 testimony before the Senate 
Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and 
Related Agencies, that fluoridation had been the most cost-effective health advance in the 
history of the NIH. Cited in letter from Gert Quigley of the Forsyth Institute to National 
Affairs Committee Cohorts, American Association for Dental Research, April 25, 1994. 
The Quigley memo, presumably reflecting how Varmus's comments had once again 
endorsed the worth of funding fluoride dental research, is titled "It couldn't have been 
better if we had written the script." The following month, May 1994, Mullenix was fired 
from Forsyth. 

9. P. M. Mullenix, P. K. DenBesten, A. Schunior, and W. J. Kernan, "Neuro- 

toxicity of Sodium Fluoride in Rats," Neurotoxicology and Teratology, vol. 2 
( 1995), pp. 169-177. (Teratology means "the study of malformations.") 

10. Letter from Harald Loe, NIDR, to Jack Hein, October 23, 1990. 

11. The mixed messages continued. Another official 1996 communication to Mullenix 
from NIH, rejecting a grant application, nevertheless stated, "The proposal addresses an 
extremely important question related to public health — whether the officially 
recommended safe levels of fluoride intake pose risks of adverse health effects, 
especially impairment of central nervous system function." Cheryl Kitt, PhD, 
Neurological Disorders and Stroke, to Mullenix, "Clinical Sciences Special Emphasis 
Panel," August 15, 1996. 

12. That was not the impression of Professor Albert Burgstahler. The University of Kansas 
chemist was a member of the official review committee that examined Mullenix's 
proposal for NIH funding for further studies. He is also the author of several scientific 
papers and books on the injurious health effects of small amounts of fluoride and is a past 
president of the International Society for Fluoride Research. Dr. Burgstahler blamed fear 
of a "loss of face" at the Public Health Service and among other scientists on the review 
committee for rejecting her research request. In a letter, July 11, 1996, Burgstahler wrote 
to Dr. Antonio Noronha of the NIH, "You are well aware of the enormous amount of 
controversy and sensitivity to loss of face that surrounds the issue of the Mullenix 
proposal and the very upsetting character of the work she has published on the 5oth 
anniversary of the start of fluoridation in the United States and Canada." He asked, "If 
any member of the Special Review Committee were to have given a more favorable 
rating to the proposal, and their names became known to those in funding-decision levels 
of the USPHS ... might they not risk jeopardizing further funding from the USPHS for 
having supported a proposal for research that has already revealed serious errors in 
USPHS thinking and policy regarding the health hazards of current levels of fluoride 
exposure in the general population?" 

NOTES To CHAPTER 3 / PP. 23-31 253 

13. M. Hertsgaard and P. Frazer, "Are We Brushing Aside Fluoride's Dangers?", February 17, 1999, 
com/news/1999/o2/17news. html. 

14. Tony Volpe and Sal Mazzanobile, who had attended the fluoride toxicity meeting 
in Jack Hein's office, were installed as Overseers. Forsyth Dental Center brochure, 
undated, p. 10. 

15. Hodge's boss, Manhattan Project Captain John L. Ferry, is the memo's author. 
Colonel Warren approved the request the same day and allocated a budget of $7,500. 
Md 3, Md 700, General Essays, Lectures, Medical Report, Box 34, Manhattan Engineer 
District Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. (Hodge's two-part research 
proposal, however, listed as an enclosure " Outline — proposed research 
project — nervous effects of T and F products," is missing from the files.) 

At Rochester during the cold war, "The toxicology studies were very comprehensive. 
They were looking for toxic effects on the bone, the blood, and the nervous system. . . . 
Without the Manhattan Project and the atomic bomb, we wouldn't know anywhere near 
as much as we do about the physiological effects of fluoride." Interview with Bob 
Woffinden and Mark Watts, Channel Four (UK) Transcript, 1997. 

Chapter 3 

1. Family data from Danish newspaper clippings in Roholm family scrapbook, read in 
translation by Roholm's daughter-in-law, Karin Roholm. Personal meeting in New York, 
May 2001. 

2. Brun was then ninety-five years old. He published a paper with Roholm on fluoride 
excretion in workers' urine. Nordisk Medicin, vol. 9 (1941), pp. 810- 814. Also found 
at: George C. Brun, H. Buchwald, and Kaj Roholm, "Die Fluorausscheidung im Harn bei 
chronischer Fluorvergiftung von Kryoli-tharbeitern," Acta Medico Scandinavica, vol. 
CVI, fasc. Ill (1941). Citation, photocopy of paper, and several Roholm biographical 
details provided by Donald Jerne of the Danish Library of Medicine. 

3. J. H. Simons, ed., Fluorine Chemistry, vol. IV (New York and London: Academic 
Press, 1965), p. vii. 

4. Fluorine Chemistry, vol. IV, p. viii. Roholm's memberships included The Society for 
Health Care, The Younger Doctors' Committee for Continuation Courses in Socialized 
Medicine, The Danish Association for the Prevention of Venereal Disease, a 
Committee to Organize a Permanent Hygiene Exhibition, and the Pharmacopeial 
Revision Committee. Letter to author on January 31, 2002, from Donald Jerne, medical 
adviser, The Danish National Library of Science and Medicine. 

5. Letter from Frank J. McClure (U.S. National Institute of Dental Research) to 6. Lisa 
Broe Christiansen (Roholm's daughter) on September 19, 1956. (Let-ter provided to 
author by daughter-in-law Karin Roholm.) 7. For history of cryolite exploitation, see K. 
E. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication: A Clinical-Hygienic Study, with a Review of the 
Literature and Some 


Experimental Investigation (London: H. K. Lewis and Co. Ltd., 1937) and R. K. Leavitt, 
"Prologue to Tomorrow: A History of the First Hundred Years in the Life of the 
Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company" (The Pennsylvania Salt Company, 1950). 
The Danish state owned the Greenland cryolite. There were only two buyers, the 
Oresund Chemical Works of Copenhagen and the Pennsylvania Salt Company of 
Philadelphia, who held a valuable monopoly for Danish cryolite in the United States and 

7. P. F. Moller and Sk. V. Gudjonsson, "Massive Fluorosis of Bones and Liga- 

ments," Acta radio, vol. 13 (1932), p. 269. 

8. Kaj Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, pp. 192 and 205. 

9. Ibid., pp. 150, 202, 143, and fig 26. 

to. Ibid., pp. 142-143, and 178. The U.S. nuclear worker Joe Harding, who suffered from 
fluoride poisoning, might have recognized this kind of skeletal poisoning; bony 
outgrowths covered Harding's palms and feet. No American doctor diagnosed these bony 
outgrowths as a symptom of fluorine intoxication, despite Harding's work in the fluoride 
gaseous diffusion plant. See chapter 18. See also Joe Harding interview: 

In 1970, I also began noticing and developing something else that was very 
unusual and new. I had always had perfectly normal and good fingernails and 
toenails and never any trouble with them. But, along during the summer and fall 
of 1970, I got some sore places on the balls of my thumb tips and fingertips, 
where your fingerprints are, that felt like I had maybe stuck a thorn or a splinter 
real down deep into them. When I would rub my other finger over it, I could feel 
it way down in there, but yet I couldn't see anything. These kept getting a little 
more sore, and finally, when the soreness got up near enough to the surface, I 
kind of dug in. I found something kind of like a piece of fingernail sticking 
through there. This was very, very painful. I would trim it off back just about as 
deep as I could reach. It would come back again. It really didn't dawn on me for 
sure just what this might be at first. But, it didn't take too long till I began to 
realize that from over on the other side, near the base of my regular fingernails, I 
was growing fingernails straight through my fingers and coming out on the 
wrong side. This was pretty painful. I had these on my thumbs and three or four 
of my fingers. This was the beginning of another very unusual thing for me, 
which I will talk more about later. ... In 1971, then, I was still working in the 35 
control room, and knee and lungs and hemoglobin in my blood all about the 
same, skin slowly worse, this fingernail business a little worse, and by this spring, 
I first noticed that I had something sore under the arch of my right foot. And then 
I had something getting sore up on the top of the arch bone of my right foot. As 
time got on, I discovered, I suppose you would call these toenails growing out 
from under the arch of my right foot, and out under the peak of the arch bone of 

NOTES TO C H A P T E R 3 / PP. 32—33 255 

right foot. It was pretty hard for me to keep my shoe tied very tight on that 
one, and I had to keep digging these things out. (Interview with Dolph 
Honicker, tape 13.) 

11. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, pp. 138-139. The Dane especially noted an ill 
ness called neurasthenia, a condition defined as "an emotional and psychic 
disorder that is characterized by impaired functioning in interpersonal rela 
tionships and often by fatigue, depression, feelings of inadequacy, headaches, 
hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation (as by light or noise), and psycho 
somatic symptoms (as disturbances of digestion and circulation)" (ref on pp. 
178 and 193). Definition in Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary (New 
York: Pocket Star Books, 1990). 

12. While this field had been "little explored," Roholm added, "it is extremely 
probable that fluorine acts on the metabolism in various ways and that the symptoms 
of chronic intoxication have a complicated genesis." Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, 
p. 286. 

13. J. Crichton-Browne, "An Address on Tooth Culture," Lancet, vol. 2 (1892), p. 6. 
Crichton-Browne wrote, "I think it well worthy of consideration whether the 
reintroduction into our diet, and especially into the diet of childbearing women and 
of children, of a supplement of fluorine in some natural form ... might not do 
something to fortify the teeth of the next generation." 

14. E. V. McCollum, N. J. E. Simmonds, and R. W. Bunting, "The Effect of 
Addition of Fluorine to the Diet of the Rat on the Quality of the Teeth," J. Biol. 
Chem., vol. 63 (1925), p. 553. 

15. For more fluoride in bad teeth, see K. E. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, p. 150. 
In mother's milk, ibid., p. 199. 

Earlier speculation from J. Crichton-Browne "An Address on Tooth Culture," was 
tested experimentally and rejected by McCollum, Simmonds, and Bunting in "The Effect 
of Addition of Fluorine," J. Biol. Chem. Roholm cited both references in his 
bibliography. The folk notion persisted, however, that fluorine might help teeth. See the 
suggestions that apparently followed the Alcoa chemist H. V. Churchill's announcement 
that fluorine caused dental mottling. "At the very meeting where Churchill announced 
his discovery of large amounts of fluorine in a water supply which caused ugly mottling 
of teeth a chemist from Hollywood, California, said he felt there must be a threshold 
point up to which fluorine was desirable. ... In June 1931, a fellow townsman of 
Churchill's, a dentist, suggested that fluorine might prevent dental cavities." Donald 
McNeil, The Fight for Fluoridation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 37. 
16 Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, p. 315. 

17. Ibid., p. 321. Further, "Every form of fluorine ingestion is counter-indicated in 
children when the permanent teeth are calcifying," Roholm wrote on p. 311. 

18. Ibid., vi. Also, e-mail, March 8, 2001, to author from Donald Jerne, medical 
advisor, Danish National Library of Science and Medicine. 

256 NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 / PP. 33-35 

19. Volcanic activity in the United States also brings fluoride to the surface. The 

Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park shoots forth steam and water poisoned 
with extraordinarily high levels of fluoride (20 ppm.) See: J. Cholak, "Current 
Information on the Quantities of Fluoride Found in Air, Food, and Water" (Kettering 
Symposium, 1957), RAK Collection. 

20. In North Africa, scientists blamed fluoride in the soil for crippling local 

people, Roholm learned. Speder: L'Osteopetrose generalize out "Marm-morskelett" 
n'est pas une maladie rare. Sa frequence dans l'intoxication fluoree." J. Radiol. Electrol., 
vol. 20 (1936), p. 1, and J. Belgo Radiol., vol. 140 (1936). In parts of the world today 
such skeletal fluorosis is endemic. In India, for example, thousands of fresh-water wells 
drilled by the United Nations during the International Water Decade of the 1980s — to 
improve local access to clean water and better sanitation — have instead produced a 
public-health crisis, with many thousands now suffering from skeletal fluorosis. " The 
problem is enormous, unbelievable," noted Andezhath Susheela, of the Fluorosis 
Research and Rural Development Foundation in Delhi. Quoted in Fred Pearce, "Wells 
That Bring Nothing But Ills," Guardian (UK), August 2, 1998. See also, Omer Farooq, 
BBC correspondent in Hyderabad, "Indian Villagers Crippled by Fluoride," BBCi, UK 
Edition, News Front Page News, April 7, 2003. 

21. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, p. 297. 

22. H. Ost, "The Fight Against Injurious Industrial Gases," Ztschr. Agnew. Chem. 

, vol. 20 (19o7), pp. 1689-1693. 

23. K. Roholm, "The Fog Disaster in the Meuse Valley, 1930: A Fluorine Intoxi- 

cation," J. Hygiene and Toxicology (March 1937), p. 131. 

24. "In the industrial smoke problem investigators have been interested mostly 

in the very frequent occurrence of sulfurous waste products . . . but little in fluorine," 
Roholm remarked. But fluorine compounds were much more toxic that the sulfur 
compounds, he explained, while "man is more sensitive to fluorine than other 
mammals." K. Roholm, "The Fog Disaster in the Meuse Valley, 1930: A Fluorine 
Intoxication," p. 126. Also, G. L. Waldbott, "Fluoride Versus Sulfur Oxides in Air 
Pollution," Fluoride, vol. 7, no. 4 (October 1974), pp. 174-176. 

25. "The immense masses of soot and dust emanating from the works have 

served to promote condensation. Fluorine compounds must have been present in 
dissolved form in microscopic particles of water and consequently in a very active and 
easily absorbable form." He added, "It is quite probable that the affection from which 
these people suffered was an acute intoxication by gaseous fluorine compounds 
emanating from certain factories in the region." K. Roholm, "The Fog Disaster in the 
Meuse Valley," p. 126. 

26. Ibid., p. 133. 

27. H. Christiani and R. Gautier, Am. Med. Legale, vol. 94 (1926), p. 821. Cited in F. 
DeEds, "Chronic Fluorine Intoxication: A Review," Medicine, vol. XII, no. 1 (1933). 
Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, pp. 38-39. P. Bardelli and C. Menzani, "Richerche sulla 
fluorosis spontanea dei ruminanti," Ann. D'Igiene, vol. 45 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 I PP. 35-37 257 

(1935), p. 399. For worker conditions, see A. W. Frostad, "Fluorforgiftning hos 
norske aluminiumfabrikkarbejdere," Tiskr. F. Den norske I acgefor, vol. 56 
(1936), p. 179. Both cited in Roholm. 

28. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, p. 37. 

29. Roholm, "The Fog Disaster in the Meuse Valley," p. 136. 

30. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, p. 310. "Physicians should be obliged to notify 

all diseases acquired while working with fluorine compounds. This is only 
practiced in USSR and Sweden, where all occupation diseases are notifiable." 
Roholm notes the Soviet practice approvingly: "In the labour legislation of the 
USSR great consideration is given to personnel working with fluorine compounds 
(shorter days, extra holidays, lower pension age, increased pension in the event of 
invalidity)." See, however, the probable unhappy fate of gaseous diffusion workers 
in Russia's nuclear program, in David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb (New Haven, 
CT: Yale University Press, 1994), pp. 189-195. 

31. Roholm, Fluoride Intoxication, p. 321. Drug reference at p. 311. 

32. The Buhl foundation gives grants for education, economics, recreation, and 
social research. It was established in 1927 by Henry Buhl Jr., owner of Pittsburgh's 
Boggs and Buhl department store. Weidlein wrote to Charles Lewis, director of the Buhl 
Foundation, on March 25, 1935: "This investigation was in its origin a part of the Sugar 
Institute's Industrial Fellowship work but this phase of that problem is no longer related 
to sugar." Folder 8, Dental Study 1935, Box 32, Buhl Foundation Records, Library and 
Archives Division, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. 33. The estimate of 
Gauley Bridge deaths is conservative, according to Martin Cherniak's epidemiological 
study in his The Hawks Nest Incident (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986). 
For both the scale of the legal threat facing corporations and the key role of the Mellon 
Institute, see especially D. Ros-ner and G. Markowitz, Deadly Dust: Silicosis and the 
Politics of Occupational Disease in Twentieth-Century America (Princeton, NJ: 
Princeton University Press, 1991). For the essential obfuscatory and public relations role 
of the Mellon Institute in the silicosis debate, see also Rachel Scott, Muscle and Blood 
(New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., Inc., 1974). 

34. John F. McMahon to Ray Weidlein, January 16, 1939, Carnegie Mellon 

Archives, cited in Deadly Dust, p. 107. 

35. See chapter 4 of Deadly Dust for fuller description of Ray Weidlein's key 

leadership role in forming the Air Hygiene Foundation and shaping its agenda. The 
Foundation — renamed the Industrial Hygiene Foundation in 1941 — would 
continue to exert a powerful corporate influence in the national debate over air 
pollution and occupational hazards, including a key early role in the Donora 

36. E. R. Weidlein, "Plan for Study of Dust Problems," cited in Deadly Dust, p. 


37. Paul Gross, Lewis J. Cralley, and Robert T. P. DeTreville, "Asbestos Bodies: 

Their Nonspecificity," Am. Industrial Hygiene Assoc. J. (November-December 
1967), pp. 541-542. 

258 3 / P. 38 

38. An excellent discussion of the role of Paul Gross and the Mellon Institute in 

the asbestos story — including the dissent of his fellow scientists — can be found in 
Rachel Scott, Muscle and Blood, pp. 185-189. 

39. For scale of asbestos damage awards, see New York Times, December 31, 

2002, section C, p. i. Further, recent big asbestos court trials, which have awarded huge 
sums to plaintiffs, have cited Industrial Hygiene Foundation documents. 

40. Alcoa's Francis Frary sat on the membership committee, and the prominent 

fluoride attorney Theodore C. Waters was a member of the Air Hygiene Foundation's 
legal committee. An August 30, 1956, letter to Waters from Alcoa's attorney Frank 
Seamans illustrates their mutual interest in fluoride: " You will recall the occasion of our 
meeting together in Washington with a group of lawyers who have clients interested in 
the fluorine problem, at which time we were discussing the U.S. Public Health Service." 
Waters was also sent information on the 1953 Kettering Fluoride Symposium. See note 
attached to symposium program, in Kettering files, RAK Collection. 

41. Dr. Paul Bovard, "Radiologic Considerations," Symposium on Fluorides, May 

13, 1953, paper, p. 2, in Kettering Institute, RAK Collection. 

42. G. D. Smith, From Monopoly to Competition: The Transformation of Alcoa ( 

New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 165 and 175. 

43. Russell D. Parker, "Alcoa, Tennessee; the Early Years, 1919-1939," The East 
Tennessee Historical Society, vol. 48 (1946), p. 88. Also, "It was in the hot pot- 
rooms of the South Plant — in the smelting or reduction process — that blacks 
were to be employed on a permanent basis." Smith, From Monopoly to Com 
petition, p. 176. Conditions at Massena were so horrendous for workers, and 
management was so indifferent to their fate, that one young MIT graduate, 
Arthur Johnson, quit in disgust, he told Smith. Also, in May and June 1948, 
scientists from the Kettering Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati dis 
covered serious injury and disability among workers in another Alcoa plant, at 
Niagara Falls, New York. The factory had been producing aluminum since 
1912. The investigators confirmed just how dangerous the Alcoa plant had 
long been. "There can be no doubt that hazardous exposure to fluorides is ( 
and for years has been) present," stated a scientist for Kettering, Dr. Wil 
liam Ashe. He studied 128 men in the "pot" room where the aluminum was 
smelted: "The most outstanding characteristic of this group," Ashe reported, " 
is the occurrence of 91 cases of fluorosis of the bone." At least thirty-three of 
these X-rayed workers "showed evidences of disability ranging in estimated 
degree up to loo percent," Ashe concluded. His findings paralleled Kaj Roholm' 
s study of cryolite workers in Denmark. Serious tooth decay, gum disease, 
and heart problems were common in the Alcoa workers; the scientists 
added that "an abnormal amount of lung fibrosis among the employees of the 
pot room was found." Also, "one sees hypertrophic changes in bone along 
the shafts of the long bones, along the crests of the ilia, the ribs, and the rami 
of the ischium, in the form of stalagmite-like excrescences which appear 
similar to changes seen in experimental animals with bone fluorosis. The 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 / P. 39 259 

interosseous membranes are often ossified. These changes, in no way related to 
arthritic processes, are believed to be due solely to fluorosis and to indicate 
that changes about joints may be expected in this disease. Therefore, when 
one finds, in cases of severe fluorosis of the bone, limitation of motion of the 
elbow and the X-ray reveals exostoses of unusual density about the elbow, 
one is probably entirely justified in concluding that the deformity and 
dysfunction are due to fluorosis, and that disability exists in association with 
and because of this disease, whether or not the man is aware of it, and 
whether or not he continues to do his job at the plant." Aluminum Company 
of America, Niagara Falls Works Health Survey, p. 13, File 4, Box 82, RAK 
Collection. The Kettering team included the scientist William F. Ashe, who five 
months later would lead the confidential Kettering investigation of the 
Donora air pollution disaster. Ashe would receive secret autopsy blood tests 
from Donora victims, performed by Alcoa, showing high levels of fluoride. 

The membership of committees of the National Research Council is a guide to 
some of these relationships: Both Frary and Kettering were members of a 44. 
Joint Committee, for example, representing the NRC's Science Advisory 
Board, advising on railway policy. Other members were Frank Jewett, vice 
president, AT&T; E. K. Bolton, chemical director, DuPont; John Johnston, 
director of research, U.S. Steel; and Isaiah Bowman, chairman of the NRC 
and director of the American Geographical Society. Charles Kettering papers, 
Office Files, Box 96, 87-n.2-296b, and 296f, Scharchburg Archives. 
Frary was also a poison gas expert, making phosgene poison for the Oldbury 
Chemical Company in Niagara Falls, before working for the U.S. Army during 

45. World War I and then joining Alcoa. See G. D. Smith, op. cit. Also, Margaret 
B. W. Graham and Bettye H. Pruitt, R & D for Industry: A Century of Techni 
cal Innovation at Alcoa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990). 

F. DeEds, "Chronic Fluorine Intoxication — A Review," Medicine, vol. XII, no. 1 
(1933). On industry, F. DeEds: "The possibility of a fluorine hazard should, 

46. therefore, be recognized in industry where this element is dealt with or where it 
is discharged into the air as an apparently worthless by-product. For instance it 
has been shown by Cristiani and Gautier that the gases evolved at alumi 
num plants, using cryolite as a raw material, contain sufficient quantities of 
fluorine to cause an increased fluorine content of the neighboring vegetation, 
and that cattle feeding on such vegetation develop a cachetic condition," p. 2. 
His reference is to H. Cristiani and R. Gautier, Am. Med. Legale, vol. 6 (1926), p. 
336. Further, DeEds calculated that each year 25,000 tons of pure fluorine was 
"pouring into the atmosphere" from the U.S. superphosphate fertilizer 
industry alone. He was concerned about where all the fluorine added to soil 
as phosphate fertilizer ended up. "Assuming an average fluorine content of 4 
percent for phosphate rock, and that 75 percent of the fluorine remains in the 
superphosphate used as fertilizer, it is seen that 90,000 tons of fluorine are 
being added annually to the top soil. This sizeable quantity gives pause for 
thought of the potential toxicities concerned therewith." DeEds did not 

26o NOTES T o CHAPTER 3 / P. 39 

include the 1933 report of thickened bones in Danish cryolite workers, by P. F. Moller 
and Sk. V.Gudjonsson, which prompted Roholm's massive study and determination of 
fluorine intoxication. P. F. Moller and Sk. V. Gudjonsson, " A Study of 78 Workers 
Exposed to Inhalation of Cryolite Dust," J. Ind. Hyg., vol. 15 (1933), p. 27. 

47. One of those studies had been done by Alcoa's H. V. Churchill, who found 

dental mottling and high levels of fluoride in the well water of Bauxite, Arkansas. 
Churchill's study was reported in 1931, the same year H. Velu in North Africa and the 
Smiths in Arizona made the same discovery. (Very curious are the apparently 
unsuccessful efforts by "Pittsburgh interests" to fund the Smith study in Arizona. That 
fragmented history is related in McNeil, The Fight for Fluoridation, p. 31.) H. Velu, "Le 
Darmous (oudermes)," Arch Inst. Pasteur d' Algerie, vol. 10, no. 4 1 (1932). 

48. "As requested in your letter of June 8th, we have questioned three of our 

local dentists as to the prevalence of cases of mottled enamel in Massena. All of the 
dentists stated that they have treated such cases here." Exchange of letters between V. C. 
Doerschuk, Massena Works, and H. V. Churchill, Aluminum Research Laboratories, 
June 1931, in Alcoa letters, McNeil Collection, Wisconsin Historical Society. 

49. See exchange of letters between H. V. Churchill and C. F. Drake of the City of 
Pittsburgh Bureau of Water, June 1931. Drake had noted the "Pittsburgh spasmodic 
fluorine content which appears to have no explanation." He informed Churchill that "an 
industrial plant not far from New Kensington had been discharging fluorine in the 
Allegheny River. The officials of that plant discontinued such discharge when 
requested." Several glass and steel plants were in the vicinity of New Kensington. H. V. 
Churchill responded, tellingly, "the presence of fluorine in water is apparently not 
necessarily proof of industrial contamination since it occurs in small amounts in so many 
water supplies." (In Alcoa letters, McNeil collection, Wisconsin Historical Society.) In 
1950, Alcoa was fined for dumping fluoride waste at Vancouver, Washington, into the 
Columbia River, Seattle Times, December 16, 1952. ( Cited in Waldbott et al., 
Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma (Lawrence, KS: Coronado Press, 1978), p. 296.) 

50. The following decade, an English scientist, Margaret Murray, would call similar dental 
mottling found near an aluminum smelter in the United Kingdom "neighborhood 
fluorosis." M. Murray and D. Wilson, "Fluorine Hazards," Lancet, December 7, 1946, p. 
822. Referring to studies near an aluminum factory in Scotland, they wrote, "In the same 
part of Inverness-shire we found that the local water supply had a very low fluorine 
content (0. 2 ppm), but we observed "moderate" dental fluorosis in the milk teeth of 
young children whose homes lay within the district contaminated by vapours from the 
factory chimneys. Such a condition in the temporary dentition is usually associated with a 
high maternal intake of fluorine. Children using the same water, whose homes lay outside 
the affected area, did not show the mottled enamel." 

N OTES TO CHAPTER 3 I P. 39 261 

Mottled teeth in children in the factory town of Donora, Pennsylvania, in 1948 

was also blamed by Philip Sadtler on fluoride smoke and fumes ( author interview), 

an association that was confirmed around the country by the U.S. Department of 

Agriculture (USDA) in 1970. The USDA report states: "Where ever domestic 

animals exhibited fluorosis, several cases of human fluorosis were reported, the 

symptoms of which were one or more of the following: dental mottling, respiratory 

distress, stiffness in the knees or elbows or both, a skin lesion, or high levels of F in 

teeth or urine [six references cited]. Man is much more sensitive that domestic 

animals to F intoxication." R. J. Lillie, "Air Pollutants Affecting the Performance of 

Domestic Animals. A Literature Review," Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Dept. 

Agric. Handbook, no. 38o (Washington, DC, August 1970). 

Mottling was also seen in children living near DuPont's wartime fluoride operation 

at Penns Grove, New Jersey. A scientitst active on the Manhattan Project, Harold Hodge, 

was quick to blame fluoride in water supplies. Roholm reported dental mottling in the 

children of fluoride workers. Their mothers had transported it from the workplace in 

breast milk. See Fluorine Intoxication, p. 199. The Cornell veterinarian Lennart 

Krook also sent me photographs of mottled teeth from children on the Akwesasne 

Mohawk reservation, near the Reynolds aluminum smelter in upstate New York. The 

notoriously close-knit international aluminum industry could follow accounts of 

litigation following World War I, which alleged fluoride dam-age 51. outside an 

aluminum smelter in Switzerland. They could read the slew of new medical information 

about chronic health effects, summarized by DeEds. Or they could look inside their own 

factories. A 1932 study published in English had found "fluorosis" in cryolite workers in 

Denmark. (P. F. Moller and Sk. V. Gudjonsson, "Massive Fluorosis of Bones and 

Ligaments," Acta radiol, vol. 13 [1932], p. 269.) Sickness was reported in a Norwegian 

aluminum smelter in 1936: A. W. Frostad, "Fluorforgiftning hos norske 

aluminiumfab-rikkarbejdere," Tiskr. F. Den norske Legefor, vol. 56 (1936), p. 179. 

The following year an investigation at DuPont found "high" fluoride levels in workers' 

urine. (Letter from Willard Machle, MD, of the University of Cincinnati to Dr. E. E. 

Evans, Dye Works Hospital, Penns Grove, New Jersey, December 28, 1937, DuPont file, 

Kettering Papers, RAK Collection.) And a confidential 1948 study of Alcoa's plant at 

Niagara Falls, New York, confirmed that horribly crippled workers were the result of a 

fluoride dust hazard that had existed for years. Alcoa may also have faced liability in its 

flurospar mines. The Franklin Fluorspar Company was an Alcoa subsidiary (see 

Mellon's Millions, The Biography of a Fortune: The Life and Times of Andrew 

W. Mellon, by Harvey O'Conner [New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., 1933], P . 390). 

Fluorspar miners in Hardin County, Illinois, wrote to Alice Hamilton about their plight. 

See Deadly Dust, 8o, fn lo: D. Rosner and G. Markowitz. The entire issue of how 

much fluoride contributed to industrial silicosis, or how much fluorosis was 

misdiagnosed as silicosis, is beyond the scope of 

262 3 / P. 40 

this book. Fluoride was widely used in the foundry place and is found in much mineral 

52. By the end of 1935 Gerald Cox's tooth study at the Mellon Institute was not 

going well. Despite the spring press release trumpeting the imminent discovery of a 
"factor" preventing decay, Cox's data still "did not reveal any positive effects," he stated 
in a confidential memo to the Institute's director, Ray Weidlein. On March 24, 1936, 
almost a year after his Buhl Foundation study had begun, Cox reported to Weidlein that 
feeding a milk extract, known as XXX liquor, to rats had failed to find the positive 
results claimed in the previous year's press release. "The data at that time did not reveal 
any positive effects," Cox told Weidlein, and required therefore "intensive work to 
re-score all of our sets of teeth. With the new and discriminating system, we have been 
able to show some positive effects." In April 1936, following Francis Frary's September 
1935 suggestion that fluoride had a role in dental health, Cox announced to his Buhl 
Foundation sponsors that he was proposing to "investigate the effects of dietary fluorine 
on caries susceptibility." See Mellon Institute Special Report, April 6, 1936, "A study of 
Tooth Decay," marked Confidential. Cox later claimed, somewhat confus-ingly, that the 
XXX liquor had contained enough fluorine "to explain the beneficial effects of the early 
experiments in which it was fed to the mothers." Buhl Foundation Records, Box 33, 
Folder 7, Dental Study 1936, Library and Archives Division, Historical Society of 
Western Pennsylvania. 

53. The letter linking Alcoa's Francis Frary to Gerald Cox's historic suggestion 
that fluoride was responsible for good teeth was found in McNeil's personal 
papers. Cox to author Donald McNeil, August 19, 1956. "The first time I ever 
gave fluorine a thought was in answer to a question of Dr. Francis C. Frary, 
who was at that time and until about three or four years ago, Director of 
Research at Alcoa. He asked if our finding, — I was the speaker in the Sep 
tember 1935 meeting of the Pittsburgh Section of the American Chemical 
Society — of less caries in rats from mothers on XXX liquor could be due to 
fluorine." File ADA 53-56, McNeil Papers, Wisconsin Historical Society. 

Whether this is indeed the first time Cox wondered about the usefulness of fluoride 
in preventing tooth decay is not clear. It is clear, however, that the aluminum industry 
had been mulling the idea for a while. In the 1931 letter to C. F. Drake, cited above, H. V. 
Churchill of Alcoa stated that fluorine in low doses "may be positively beneficial." 

54- E. R. Weidlein, Ind. Eng. Chem., News Ed., vol. 15 (1937), p.147. See also G. J. Cox, 
"Experimental Dental Caries. I. Nutrition in Relation to the Development of Dental 
Caries," Dental Rays, vol. 13 (1937), pp. 8-10, and "Discussion," JAMA, vol. 113 
(1938), p. 1753. 

55. Cox et al., "Resume of the Fluorine-Caries Relationship," Fluorine and Dental Health, 
Publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, no. 19 
(1942): "The first experimental results, using sodium fluoride were obtained in August 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 / PP. 40-41 263 

56. P. C. Lowery to C. F. Kettering, April 25, 1936, filed by letter and year, 

Office Files, Personal Correspondence, Scharchburg Archive. 

57. DuPont had become so wealthy selling munitions during World War I that the 
company had bought a controlling interest in General Motors. The giant 
enterprise was only pried apart in the 1950s, following federal antitrust action. 

58. D. Rosner and G. E. Markowitz, Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of 

Industrial Pollution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002). 

59. "Organized Opposition ... Particularly by the American Standards Asso 
ciation and the New York City Fire Department," Report on Operations of 
Kinetic Chemicals, Inc., from 1930 through 1943, p. 15. Including "History of 
Development of Fluorine Chemicals from 1928 through 1930," for pre 
sentation to the General Motors Policy Committee, by Donaldson Brown. 
Prepared by E. F. Johnson and E. R. Godfrey, October 1944. Files of Charles 
Kettering, Scharchburg Archive. 

Also, "Freon ... coming in contact with open flames will decompose and you 

get a certain amount of fluorine and a certain amount of chlorine, and you also, 

just by happen-stance, get a slight amount of phosgene." Direct examination of 

DuPont director Willis Harrington, chairman of Kinetic Chemicals. United States 

vs. DuPont, Civil Action No. 49 C-1071, p. 3922 (U.S. District Court for the 

Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, 1953). 

There were other concerns, as well. The manufacture of Freon required huge 

quantities of the extraordinarily corrosive and toxic hydrofluoric acid, and "high" levels 

of fluoride were soon reported in DuPont workers' urine. Willard Machle, MD, of the 

University of Cincinnati to Dr. E. E. Evans, Dye Works Hospital, Penns Grove, New 

Jersey, December 28, 1937, DuPont file, Kettering Papers, RAK Collection. 6o. Kehoe 

et al„ "A Study of the Health Hazards Associated with the Distribution and Use of Ethyl 

Gasoline" (April 1928), from the Eichberg Laboratory of Physiology, University of 

Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, National Archives RG 70, 101869, File 725; cited in Rosner 

and Markowitz, Deceit and Denial, p. 313. Kehoe's essential hypothesis, that low levels 

of lead in blood were safe and normal, was undercut in the late 196os by the scientist 

Clair Patterson of the California Institute of Technology, who examined polar ice and 

concluded that industrialization had greatly increased lead in the human environment. 

Kehoe's defense of lead safety was dealt a coup de grace in the 19705 by Harvard's 

Herbert Needleman, whose studies with children showed lead to be far more toxic than 

Kehoe had claimed. 

For Kehoe's contribution to industry profitability, see L. P. Snyder, ""The Death 
Dealing Smog Over Donora, Pennsylvania': Industrial Air Pollution, Public Health, 
and Federal Policy, 1915-1963 1994 PhD thesis available from University 
Microfilms. See especially chapter 5. Also, J. L. Kitman, "The Secret History of 
Lead," The Nation, March 20, 2000. See also chapter 8 of this book for further 
discussion of lead. 

264 NOTES TO CHAPTER 3/ PP. 41—42 

61. W. F. Ashe, "Robert Arthur Kehoe, M.D.," Archives of Environmental Health, 

vol. 13 (August 1966), p. 139. Cited in Snyder. 

62. Ethyl had been established by Standard Oil and General Motors to market 


63. "Studies of the Combination Products of Di-Fluoro-Dichloro Methane" and " 
Notes on the Toxicity of Decomposition Products from Dichlorodi- 
fluoromethane" in Kettering Unpublished Reports, vol. I.d., RAK Collection. 
Kehoe dismisses the risk from phosgene, arguing that the presence of 
irritating HF acid would force prompt evacuation from the danger zone. He 
does not address the risk to firefighters or to subjects unable to flee the gases. 
"The only experimental situation which has been found to be responsible for 
the production of significant proportions of phosgene in the decomposition 
products of CC1 F was the result of rapid discharge of the refrigerant in high 
concentration, through the flame of an oil fire in an enclosed chamber — 
that is, the conditions were those of a conflagration. Situations which 
correspond to those which might develop from a leak in a home or build 
ing, are uniformly found to produce such relatively low concentrations of 
phosgene, that no amount of dilution of the decomposition products could 
eliminate the irritating and warning properties of the acids without elimi 
nating the toxic effects of phosgene." 

At a private three-day "Symposium on Fluorides" given for industry at the Kettering 
Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati in May 1953 Kehoe discussed details of secret 
human experiments he had performed to test Freon's toxicity for the U.S. government 
during World War II. He had used himself as one of the gas-chamber test subjects. (See: 
General Work on Project P.D .R. C. 377 (S E C R E T) for the Office of Scientific 
Research and Develop ment, U.S. Government Washington, DC, 7_15_43 unpublished 
Volumes 1-d, RAK Collection.) Freon produced "unconsciousness after some minutes of 
exposure to concentrations of the order of magnitude of a percent or more," Kehoe 
recounted. He added, "As the subject of the experiments carried out at the higher 
concentrations, I was alarmed, fleetingly, at the point of rapid ebb of consciousness, 
being convinced that the observers outside the chamber were not aware of what was 
happening to me. Another subject, exposed to much lower concentrations, had 
considerably less assurance than I and became apprehensive and aggrieved ... he 
became quite sure that we were exposing him to a risk which he felt we were concealing 
from him. 

"I describe these as yet unpublished experiments," he told the gathered industry 
doctors, "since it is something you, as physicians, should know. It is believed, generally, 
that exposure to Freon 12 is of negligible importance, and that the material is quite 
harmless. The significance of the matter relates primarily to the repairman, who can get 
into situations involving the escape of the material from equipment into small enclosures. 
Such a workman may become unconscious and receive serious physical injury, or even 
be killed. It is not true that this is a harmless material. " Kehoe left unexplained why the 
repairman himself should not have the information 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3/ PP. 42—43 265 

on Freon toxicity. Several of the papers given at the symposium were later 
published. Kehoe's was not. 

64. Kehoe died in November 1992, at the age of ninety-nine. An obituary in the 

Cincinnati Enquirer, November 29, 1992, noted that he had retired from the 
Laboratory in 1965. 

65. W. Langewiesche, "American Ground," The Atlantic Monthly (July-August 

2002), pp. 44_79. Also published in full as American Ground: Unbuilding the 
World Trade Center (New York: North Point Press, 2002). 

66. Numerous and multiple phosgene injuries were reported as a result of chlo- 

rofluorocarbon decomposition by the Manhattan Project. Chlorofluorocar-bons 
were used in massive quantities in the K-25 plant at Oak Ridge. 

Freon caused deaths and injuries in the home, too: "Dahlman encountered two 
[poisoning cases] resulting from heating fluorocarbons above the decomposition 
temperatures. In the first case, a mechanic operated with an acetylene torch on a 
refrigerator leaking Freon 12. He developed dyspnea, vomiting, and malaise and 
required hospital treatment for five days. In the second, an agricultural worker 
sprayed his bedroom with aerosol Freon fly spray. He then switched on the electric 
heater and went to bed. During the night he developed vomiting, diarrhea, and 
malaise and died on the following day." T. Dahlmann; Nord. Hyg. Tidskr., vol. 39 
(1958), p. 165. Cited in R. Y. Eagers, Toxic Properties of Inorganic Fluorine 
Compounds (Amsterdam and New York: Elsevier, 1969). (DuPont's New Jersey 
Chamber Works plant also was blamed for poisoning local farmers and workers 
with fluoride pollution in the 194os.) The ozone-depleting gas was scheduled to be 
phased out by the 1987 Montreal Protocol. 

67. One Kettering study monitored fluoride levels in DuPont workers' urine and 

confirmed that "these results have been high." Letter from Willard Machle, MD, 
of the University of Cincinnati to Dr. E. E. Evans, Dye Works Hospital, Perms 
Grove, NJ, December 28, 1937, Report on Operations of Kinetic Chemicals, Inc., 
from 1930 through 1943, p. 17, RAK Collection. Including " History of 
Development of Fluorine Chemicals from 1928 Through 1930," for presentation 
to General Motors Policy Committee, by Donaldson Brown. Scharchburg 

Freon sales again skyrocketed higher during World War II, with Freon used as a 
coolant in the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant and as a propellant in DDT antimalaria 
bug bombs. 

68. W. Machle et al., 'The Effects of the Inhalation of Hydrogen Fluoride. I. The 

Response to High Concentrations. 2. The Response to Low Concentrations," J. 
Industrial Hygiene, vol. 16, no. 2 (1934), p. 129; and vol. 17, no. 5 (1935), p. 221. 

69. The Advisory Committee on Research in Dental Caries (Daniel F. Lynch, 

chairman; Charles F. Kettering, counselor; and William J. Gies, secretary), Dental 
Caries: Findings and Conclusions on its Causes and Controls. Stated in 195 
Summaries by Observers and Investigators in Twenty-five Countries, The Research 
Commission of The American Dental Association (New York, 1939). 

266 NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 / P. 43 

70. P. C. Lowery to C. Kettering, Kettering Office Files 1937, "L", 87-11, 1-412, 
Scharchburg Archive. 

71. "Armed with a letter from Dr. Weidlein of Mellon Institute to Mr. A. W. Mellon, 
he ]Friesell] went to Washington to enlist the support of the Public Health Service. Mr. 
Mellon referred him to Surgeon General Cummings." Letter from H. V. Churchill of 
Alcoa to Dr. Frederick McKay of the Rockefeller Foundation, May 20, 1931, discussing 
the role of H. E. Friesell, dean of the University of Pittsburgh's Dental School. Alcoa 
Documents, Wisconsin Historical Society. Friesell sought to have naturally occurring 
dental fluorosis studied in Arizona, by University of Arizona scientists H. V. and 
Margaret Smith (far from the industrial centers of the East). 

See also the letter of August 6, 1930, from C. T. Messner of the Public Health 
Service to Friesell: "You are probably aware of the fact that the U.S. Public Health 
Service is a Bureau in the Treasury Department therefore, it might be advisable, 
especially as our Secretary is from your city, to also urge his endorsement of this 
program. The slightest interest on his part would influence the Service to a great degree 
in taking up this problem. I am sure you will hold this statement in strict confidence . . . 
after your letter is received here I will keep you advised as to how things are going 
along." File 9, Box 2, McNeil Collection, Wisconsin State Historical Society. 

The following year, in the spring of 1931, the same Captain C. T. Messner at the 
Public Health Service told H. Trendley Dean he would be studying mottled enamel. 
Dean stated that he was "assigned" to conduct the epide-miological studies that resulted 
in the key "fluorine caries hypothesis," — the scientific basis for U.S. water fluoridation. 
See Don McNeil interview with Dean, May 3, 1955, in File 13, Box 2, McNeil 
Collection, Wisconsin State Historical Society. 

72. How long Alcoa had known that fluoride produced dental mottling is not clear. (Alcoa 
was also concerned that the bad teeth in its company town of Bauxite would be linked to 
aluminum salts and further tarnish the public image of aluminum kitchenware. See 
McNeil, The Fight for Fluoridation, p. 27.) Perhaps it was coincidence that the Alcoa 
chemist H. V. Churchill's 1931 correlation of bad teeth with fluoride-contaminated well 
water in the company town of Bauxite appeared in the scientific press just weeks before 
separate studies confirming fluoride's link to mottled teeth were also published (by 
Smith and by Velu). What is certain, however, is that as soon as fluoride's links to 
mottled teeth were public knowledge, Alcoa privately confirmed that dental fluorosis 
was also found near its aluminum smelter in Massena, New York. See earlier note. 

73. H. T. Dean, "Chronic Endemic Dental Fluorosis (Mottled Enamel)," JAMA, 

vol. 107 (1936), pp. 1269-1272. 

74. "Ordered" and "hunch" quoted from Don McNeil interview with Dean, May 3, 

1955. Dean told McNeil that in 1931, before he began his work, he "had a hunch" there 
would be fewer cavities in mottled teeth. McNeil Collection, Box 2, File 13. It is not 
known how Dean arrived at this hunch. Nor 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 3 / PP. 43—44 267 

is it known whether Dean had been ordered to "discover" some good news about 
fluoride. Of interest, however: the man who gave Dean his marching orders, the 
PHS's C. T. Messner, was the same official who, five years later, met in Detroit 
with the Freon gas magnate Charles Kettering. This meeting helped to produce the 
book Dental Caries, which also favorably introduced many dentists to fluoride. 
Indeed, Dean's "hunch" flew in the face of a study done at John Hopkins in 1925 by 
E. V. McCollum, who was hopeful that fluoride would strengthen teeth but had 
instead concluded that "the results showed, contrary to our expectations, that the 
ingestion of fluorine, in amounts but little above those which have been reported to 
occur in natural foods, markedly disturbs the structure of the teeth." E. V. 
McCollum, N. Simmons, J. E. Becker, and R. W. Bunting, J. Biol. Chem., vol. 63 
(1925), pp. 553-561. 

75. H. T. Dean, "Endemic Fluorosis and Its Relation to Dental Caries," Public 

Health Rep., vol. 53 (1938), pp. 1443-1452. Also H. T. Dean et al., "Domestic Water 
and Dental Caries," Pub. Health Rep., vol. 56 (April If, 1941), pp. 756-792. Dean was 
cross-examined in the 1960 Schuringa vs. Chicago lawsuit, to enjoin the city from 
fluoridating water supplies. According to the critic Dr. Richard G. Foulkes, Dean, under 
cross-examination by Mr. Dilling and aided by F. B. Exner, a radiologist and critic of 
fluoridation, was forced to admit that his early studies of Galesburg, Quincy, Monmouth, 
and Macomb and his later studies in twenty-one cities of 7,257 children, did not meet his 
own criteria of "lifetime exposure" and "unchanged water supply" and were, therefore, 
worthless. Dr. Exner prepared an "Analytical Commentary" on Dean's testimony. Exner 
"refers to the transcript and exhibits that show that not only were the basic criteria 
lacking in Dean's work, but also random variations found in both high and low fluoride 
areas cancelled out any 'benefits' that appeared in the high fluoride vs. lower fluoride 
cities, "according to Foulkes. State of Wisconsin Circuit Court Fond Du Lac County Safe 
Water Association, Inc., Plaintiff, vs. City of Fond Du Lac, Defendant Case No. 92 CV 
579, Affidavit of Dr. Richard G. Foulkes in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment. 

76. G. J. Cox, "New Knowledge of Fluorine in Relation to the Development of 

Dental Caries." J. Am. Water Works Assoc, vol. 31 (1939), pp. 1926-1930. PHS 
regulations for 1939 stated, for example: "The presence of ... fluoride in excess of 1 
ppm . . . shall constitute grounds for the rejection of water supply." PHS, "Public Health 
Service Drinking Water Standards," Public Health Rep., vol. 58 (1943), pp. 69-111 (at p. 
8o). A tenfold margin of safety required that fluoride in water be no higher than 1 part 
per million, water works engineers agreed. H. E. Babbitt and J. J. Doland, Quality of 
Water Supplies in Water Supply Engineering. 3rd Edition (New York: McGraw Hill, 
1939), p. 454. Cited in Waldbott et al., Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma, p. 302. 

268 NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 /PP. 46-47 

Chapter 4 

1. Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Touchstone, 

1986). On p. 605 Rhodes quotes the French chemist Bertrand Goldschmidt, who wrote 
that the Manhattan Engineering District was "the astonishing American creation in three 
years, at a cost of $2 billion, of a formidable array of factories and laboratories — as large 
as the entire automobile industry of the United States at that date." On congressional 
secrecy, L. Groves, Now It Can Be Told (New York: Da Capo, 1962), p. 362. 

2. Lt. Col. E. Marsden to Gen. Groves, December 3, 1943, Memorandum, " 

Obtaining of Information from C.W.S. on Phosgene, Fluorine, and Fluorine 
Compounds": "It is requested ... for the Medical Section of the Manhattan District to be 
in full possession of all the information on phosgene, fluorine, and fluorine compounds 
that is presently in possession of the War Department." File EIDM D-2-b. MD 723.13 
Memo to the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, Washington, DC, December 3, 
1943, from Brigadier General L. R. Groves: "It is requested that Colonel Stafford L. 
Warren, M.C., be authorized to contact the Chief, Chemical Warfare Service, to obtain all 
information that may be available in the files of the Chemical Warfare Service ... on the 
detection of, and protection against, phosgene, fluorine, and fluorine chemicals." EIDM 

3. The enrichment factor was 1.0043. Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic 

Bomb, p. 340. At first, the K-25 plant produced only partially enriched uranium, which 
was further enriched at Eastman Kodak's Oak Ridge Y-12 plant and then transported as 
uranium tetrafluoride to Los Alamos. See also Rhodes, 552, 553, and 602. 

4. Uranium hexafluoride quantities: "Considerable amounts of special fluo- 

rinated chemicals will be supplied to the K-25 plant," including "Uranium hexafluoride 
33 tons per month — required by October 1944." See "Functions of Madison Square 
Area," Md 319.1, Box 26, Report Madison Square Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta 
FRC, RG 326. Also memo, "Storage Facilities at the Site For C-616," where Captain L. C. 
Burman, Corps of Engineers, notes a "2150 lb daily requirement" for hexafluoride. Md 3, 
Md 700, General Essays, Lectures, Box 34, Manhattan Engineer District Accession #4nn 
326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. Work force and power consumption: AEC Handbook 
on Oak Ridge Operations (1961), Oak Ridge Public Library. 

5. Fresh air: University of Chicago, Metallurgical Laboratory, October 30, 1942, 

Memorandum to C. M. Cooper from R. S. Apple. Also, memorandum: " Medical 
Considerations of Work in the Pilot Plant, Philadelphia Naval Yard" from Col. Warren to 
Rear Admiral Mills, October 25, 1944. C-216 refers to the substance referred to as "fresh 
air." Md 702.1, Medical Exams Specimens, Box 54, Medical Considerations Accession 
#4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

"Madison Square Area functions as the Materials Section of the Manhattan District 
to obtain special materials. The principal projects are the location, procurement and 
refining of uranium ore, preparation of uranium 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 /P. 47 269 

oxide, uranium hexafluoride and uranium metal, and production of fluori-nated 
hydrocarbons." "Functions of Madison Square Area," Md 319.1, Box 26, Report Madison 
Square Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. How well the fluoride secrets 
were kept, at least from foreign governments, is unclear. The Soviet spy Klaus Fuchs had 
worked on fluorine diffusion at the University of Birmingham in England and spent 
several crucial months in New York in 1944 with the British Diffusion Mission. He gave 
the Russians key details of the U.S. fluoride diffusion process, including information about 
the top-secret sintered nickel barriers through which the gas diffused. See Holloway, 
Stalin and the Atomic Bomb, p. 104. 

6. See Rhodes, 494 for K-25 size and complexity. See L. Groves, Now It Can Be Told 
(New York: Da Capo, 1962), pp. 114-115 for corrosion and need to " condition" 
equipment. Also, at an October 23, 1942, presentation to the S-i Committee of the 
OSRD, a precursor to the Manhattan Project, Mr. Z. G. Deutsch of the Standard Oil 
company, which was building a pilot centrifuge plant to separate uranium at 
Standard's Bayway refinery in Linden, NJ, stated, "All development work, toward a 
design of plant for the separation of our isotopes has visualized working with a single 
material — uranium hexafluoride." He added, "The principal objection to it is its 
extreme chemical reactivity." See Manhattan District History, Book I, vol. 4, 
chapter 14. 

7. On October 19, 1943, top doctors from the Manhattan Project met in Captain John L. 
Ferry's Madison Square Area offices in New York. Harold Hodge from the 
University of Rochester was there. So were several doctors from Du Pont, Chrysler, 
and the Kellex Corporation, as well as the top medical officers for the Manhattan 
Project, including Col. Stafford Warren. Their secret agenda: "fluorine hazards to 
workers." Pure fluorine "would consume the skin and flesh," of exposed men, the 
doctors were warned. Ordinary protective clothing was "not satisfactory." A fluorine 
explosion would produce a terrifying mix of hydrofluoric acid and "oxygen 
fluorides." The acid burn might go undetected for twelve hours but would be 
followed by "extreme pain." Eventually the fluoride "penetrates to the bone, and then 
will spread along the bone and require amputation," the doctors were told. No one 
was then certain what the oxygen fluorides might do. Memo: Safety and Health 
Conference on Hazards of C-216 [code for F] October 19, 1943, Oak Ridge Records 
Holding Task Group Box 166 Building 2714-H, Vault, #82,761. 

See also, for UF6, Union Carbide Safety Bulletin No S-l, June 16, 1945. UF6 
breaks down into HF and uranyl fluoride [UO F ]. The latter, the bulletin notes, "has 
an action both as a surface irritant and as a poisonous agent acting internally." "When 
inhaled as a fine dust or fume, it readily goes into solution on the moist linings of the 
respiratory tract from which it is readily absorbed ... all of the UOF absorbed from 
any surface is eliminated by the kidneys, which causes kidney damage." "Deep 
penetrating burns" were produced by surface skin exposure to hydrolysis products, 
HF and UOFz, Safety Reports, Bulletins, Box 55, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, 
Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

270 NOTES l'O CHAPTER 4 / Pp. 47-49 

8. "Prior to the existence of the District, elemental fluorine was a laboratory 

curiosity." The Manhattan District Official History, p. 3.13, Book 1 General, 
vol. 7, Medical Program. For most reactive element, R. E. Banks, "Isolation of Fluorine 
by Moissan: Setting the Scene," J. Fluorine Chem., vol. 33 (1986), pp. 3-26. For action 
on steel, above reference, "Memo: Safety and Health Conference on Hazards of C-216" 
[code for F], October 19, 1943. "Mild steel valves and pipes have been used [to handle 
fluorine] but it seems that any impurity or foreign substance in the pipe or valve may be 
the activating agent to start a reaction. Dr. Benning [from Du Pont] exhibited a steel 
valve . . . which had been consumed by action of C-216. The heat generated by the 
reaction is tremendous and a considerable flash hazard is present as the reaction is almost 

9. These companies and their roles are described in greater detail in The Man- 

hattan District Official History, Book 1, General, vol. 7, Medical Program. 

10. The liquid was named after Professor Joseph Simons of Penn State 
University, who invented a process known as "electro-chemical fluorination, 
" which used electricity to replace the hydrogen with fluoride in hydrogen- 
carbon bonds, producing fluorocarbons. (After the war the technology 
would be licensed to the 3M corporation, which would use it to make, 
among other things, the fabric protector Scotchgard. See chapter 17.) See J. 
H. Simons, ed., Fluorine Chemistry, vol. 1 (New York: Academic Press, 1950) 
, p. 423. 

11. H. Goldwhite, J. Fluorine Chem., vol. 33, p. 113. 

12. See "Report on the Fluoro Carbon work" by Harold Urey, September 26, 

1942, S-l files. Further, see Goldwhite. See also Industrial and Engineering Chem., 
vol. 39, no. 3, p. 292. 

13. For example, 35,000 pounds a month of "polytetrafluorethylene" (Teflon); 1, 600,000 
pounds of "hexafluorxylene"; and 1,400 lbs of "fluorinated lubricating oil." For delivery 
schedule of fluorocarbons, see "Functions of Madison Square Area," Md 319.1, Report 
Madison Square, Box 26, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

14. Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomh; p. 494. Dick Powell author inter- 

view; and also Goldwhite, J. Fluorine Chem., above reference. 

15. Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 8. 

16. The plant was built in the basement of the Schermerhorn Laboratory in 

January 1943. Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, p. 494. 

17. "Initiation of Medical Program for Project at Columbia University," Friedell to 

the District Engineer, U.S. Engineer Office, Manhattan District, January 20, 1943. 

18. Capt. John Ferry to Col. Stafford Warren, November 10, 1943; and Capt. John 
Ferry to the Area Engineer, Columbia Area, July 14, 1944. "It would be diffi 
cult to prove that his illness had not been aggravated by his fume exposure," 
Ferry concluded in Spelton's case. Illness of Mr. Christian Spelton, Md 726.2, 
Occupational Diseases, Box 55, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, 
RG 326. For pulmonary fibrosis as symptom, see Roholm, Fluorine Intoxi 
cation, p. 150. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 /PP. 49— 51 271 

19. On teeth falling out, see New York Operations Research and Medicine Divi- 

sion, Correspondence 1945-1952, Box 28-47, Box 36 ,"Du Pont File," Atlanta 
FRC, RG 326. For Priest's fluorine work at Columbia, see Industrial and 
Engineering Chem., March 1947. 

20. Princeton account at Md 319.1, Ferry Report Medical, Box 25, Accession #4nn 

326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. For Iowa State, case of Max Rankin see Md 
702.1, Medical Exams Specimens, Box 54, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta 
FRC, RG 326. For case of Dr. Oscar N. Carlson, report of Allan P. Scoog: 
Carlson had worked at Ames since 1943. He worked with beryllium fluoride. 
Multiple hospitalizations were followed with a diagnosis of "diffuse fibronodular 
pathologic process throughout both lungs . . . occupational fibrosis." Medicine, 
Health and Safety, Beryllium, July 1951-December 1951. NARA II. The gassed 
Purdue researchers had lung injuries resembling those in soldiers exposed to the 
World War I poison gas phosgene. Capt. John Ferry to Col. Stafford Warren, 
May 22, 1944. Also, Capt. John Ferry to Col. Stafford Warren, June 23, 1944, Md 
319.1, Report Medical Ferry, Box 25, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, 
RG 326. 

21. Memorandum to Col. Warren from Capt. John Ferry, November 15, 1943, " 

Visit to DuPont": "The prevailing opinion is that the irritating properties of the 
HF also formed, will not be a satisfactory guide against the toxicity of the 
oxyfluoride." "DuPont" File, New York Operations Research and Medicine 
Division, Correspondence 1945-1952, Box 28-47, Box 36, Atlanta FRC, RG 
326; "DuPont," Box 14, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

22. Memo to Col. E. H. Marsden from Col. Warren. January 6, 1945, "Safety of 

Operations at S-5o," C-616, Box 28, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 

23. "One is impressed," noted Captain John L. Ferry, senior medical officer for 

the Madison Square Area, "by the similarity between these cases and persons 
dying from work in beryllium plants." He reminded his boss that "one 
explanation of the beryllium deaths was that they resulted from exposure to 
beryllium oxyfluoride." Capt. Ferry to Col. Warren, February 2, 1944. " Fatalities 
Occurring from a By-Product of T.F.E.," Md 729.3, Safety Program Protection 
Against Hazards, Book', 6/25/42-7/31/44, Box 55, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, 
Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

24. Dr. G. H. Gehrman, DuPont Medical Director, to Capt. Ferry, May 5, 1944. 

Md 319.1, General Essays, Lectures, Medical Report, Box 34, #4nn 326-85-005, 
Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

25. Capt. Ferry to Col. Warren, February 2, 1944. "Fatalities Occurring from a By- 

Product of T.F.E." Also, DuPont was reluctant to have the government test " their 
own commercially developed material since several of the components thus far 
identified give good promise for commercial uses other than that contemplated 
here." District Engineer Ruhoff to Dr. H. T. Wensel, Clinton Engineer Works, 
March 30, 1944, Documents 366 and 367, RG 227.3.1. 

26. Capt. Ferry to Col. Warren, February 2, 1944. "Fatalities Occurring from a By- 

Product of T.F.E." 

272 NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 / PP. 51— 53 

27. Richard Powell, "Fluorine Chemistry: The ICI legacy," in Fascinated by Fluo- 

rine (Amsterdam and New York: Elsevier, 2000). He quotes the visiting ICI scientist J. 
H. Brown on p. 345. 

28. Kramish, A., "They Were Heroes Too," Washington Post, December 15, 1991. 

29. The secret facility was a pilot version of the massive S-5o "thermal diffusion" 

factory being readied at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The plant at Oak Ridge appears also to 
have presented considerable fluoride health risks to workers, according to the official 
history. Each time a new hexafluoride cylinder was attached to the S-5o equipment, "the 
danger of breathing UF6 and of being burned by it in this operation is considerable." The 
Manhattan District Official History, Book 1, General, vol. 7, Medical Program, p. 3.22. 

30. Conant had responded to Col. Warren's request for information, sending him 

reports on fluoride from the Chicago Toxicity Laboratory, and OSRD Report #3285 
"The Toxicity of Compounds Containing Fluorine." Conant to H. T. Wensel, October 6, 
1943, RG 227.3.1, Document #0398, and Ruth Jenkins ( Conant's secretary) to Wensel, 
February 15, 1945, RG 227.3.1, Document #0341. Conant sought to keep specialized 
information about fluoride out of scientific journals during the war. He wrote to the 
editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Arthur Lamb, on December 29, 
1943: "I should appreciate it if you would send any papers concerning fluorine 
compounds to me if they are submitted in the future, and I will try and get in touch with 
the more conservative reviewers." Document 0114, RG 227.3.1. 

31. TDMR-628 (Technical Division Memorandum Report from Edgewood Arsenal) 
cited p. 20, OSRD Report 3285. "Among the effects noted were photophobia, 
headaches ... as well as difficulty and pain in accommodation." 

32. Low concentrations of the organic compound cited produced "marked weariness, very 
strong mental depression, reluctance for any physical effort. Quite distinct periods of 
nervous irritation difficult to control, followed by periods of physical and mental 
exhaustion, drowsiness and giddiness." Sporzynski Y.5682 May 5, 1943, cited in OSRD 
Report 3285, p. 37. 

33. E. C. Andrus, D. W. Bronk, G. A. Carden Jr., et al., eds., Advances in 

Military Medicine, 2 vols. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948), p. 561. See also Fascinated 
by Fluorine, p. 347; and author interview with former Imperial Chemical Industries 
(ICI) scientist Dick Powell. 

34. J. Conant to Dr. H. T. Wensel, Clinton Engineering Works, October 6,1943. 

RG 227.3.1 Document 0398. 

35- Author interview, July 27, 2003. 

36. Capt. Joe Howland, "Studies on Human Exposure to Uranium Compounds," in Harold 
Hodge and Carl Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds, 
with a Section on the Pharmacology and Toxicology of Fluorine and Hydrogen 
Fluoride (New York: McGraw Hill, 1949), p. 1005. The official history of the 
Manhattan Project, like Gen. Groves, gives a conflicting account of the disaster. On p. 
5.3, Book VI, Section 5, it states only that " several persons were injured." However, 
Book I, vol. 6, p. 3.19 notes that, 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 I PP. 54— 55 273 

"Douglas P. Meigs died as a result of burns due to steam. The Aetna, insurance 
carrier for Fercleve [the contractor], was not permitted to investigate the cause, 
nor the scene of the accident, but was permitted to make a routine dependency 
investigation. After complete facts were available to the Insurance Section, the 
insurance carrier was instructed to make payment as awarded to Meigs's widow by 
the Bureau of Workmen's Compensation, State of Pennsylvania." 

37. A. Kramish, "They Were Heroes Too," Washington Post, December 15, 1991. 

Kramish told me that the Manhattan Project officer, "Dusty" Rhodes was sent to 
silence the press. The Philadelphia Record may have gone to press before he 
arrived, Kramish thinks. The following morning the newspaper reported that two 
"specialists" had been killed in an accident. "Gas was released," the newspaper 

38. Leslie Groves, Now It Can Be Told (New York: Da Capo, 1962), p. 121. 

39. Washington Post, December 15, 1991. 

40. At one beryllium factory in Ohio doing secret fluoride work for the Man- 

hattan Project, skin lesions and a crippling lung disease called berylliosis produced 
an employee turnover rate of loo percent each month. Captain Mears to Major 
Ferry, July 30, 1945. He reports on "chemical dermatitis . .. resulting from the 
fluoride compounds entering through a hair follicle, contaminating a wound, or 
through a puncture wound by a sharp crystal. In these cases a papule develops 
slowly with some of the lesions ending in ulceration taking months to heal. Some 
of the workmen's hands and forearms are covered with inflamed hair follicles, 
papules, and depressed sharply circumscribed scars." Md 319.1, General Essays, 
Lectures, Medical Report, Box 34, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 

41. "Never before had such quantities of elemental fluorine gas been handled 

daily," wrote a Manhattan Project doctor, Herbert Stokinger, who saw the daily 
health risk to American workers. "Continuous exposure to low concentrations from 
unavoidable losses from the equipment was a source of considerable concern," he 
added. Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium 
Compounds, p. 1024. 

42. "Fluorine: Precautions to be Observed in Handling, Shipping and Storage." 

Manhattan Project Official History, Occupational Hazards, Book 1, General. 

43. Herbert Stokinger reported that animal deaths were seen in laboratory 
experiments at o.3-mg/cu m for fluorine. Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., 
Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds, p. 1033. Also, "The 
toxicity of oxyfluorides occurring from the liberation of fluorine in the 
atmosphere" was given a high priority for research. Memo to Col. Warren 
from Capt. John L. Ferry, November 29, 1943, Md 3, Md 700, General 
Essays, Lectures, Medical Reports, Box 34, Manhattan Engineer District 
Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

That toxicity data, only declassified in 1994, is truly spectacular. While 
exposure of laboratory animals to 0.5 parts per million of pure fluorine for 

2 74 NOTE S TO CHAPTER 4 / P. 


thirty days was considered "safe," a similar, microscopic quantity of oxygen fluoride 

"was lethal after 14 hours," the scientists reported. See "Detailed Duties of Harold 

Hodge," list of "problems" and "results" encountered by the Rochester Division of 

Pharmacology and Toxicology. Folder 2, Box SOF01B219, ACHRE, RG 220; also, 

C-212 [code for oxygen fluoride] — i ppm killed all animals (rats and mice), in "Toxicity 

of C-6i6, C-212 and C-216" ' Memo to Files' by Capt. B. J. Mears. Medical Crops, Md 3, 

Md 700, General Essays, Lectures, Medical Reports, Box 34, Manhattan Engineer 

District Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. (By comparison, this 

tox-icity appears at least as bad as the World War I poison gas phosgene, which was also 

found in the bomb plants, as a result of the heating of Freon.) The Chemical Warfare 

Service had reported to Col. Stafford Warren that, when exposed to phosgene, "mice 

succumb to chronic exposure of one part per million.") Memorandum for the Files, 

"Subject: Survey of Phosgene Effects" by Stafford Warren, February 23, 1944, A2, Box 

26, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

Although the Manhattan Project had given a high priority to the experimental 

investigation of such oxyfluorides, the official and published work does not mention the 

results — perhaps a worrisome omission, given that the scientists suspected that the 

compounds might be encountered in the vicinity of bomb plants. The standard text, 

Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds, edited by Carl Voegtlin and 

Harold Hodge, has no mention of oxygen fluoride. Also, for evidence that scientists 

suspected oxygen fluoride would be encountered by citizens and workers, after an 

industrial hygiene survey at Harshaw Chemical in Cleveland in May 1947, Rochester 

scientists reported that "the results are on the low side, since the efficiency of the 

sampling procedure we used is not too good for fluorine and oxyfluoride; if considerable 

quantities of these two gases were present in the air, we probably missed a part of them." 

See Pharmacology Report #558, The University of Rochester Atomic Energy Project, 

Box S09F01B227, ACHRE, RG 220. 

"HF is a protoplasmic poison with great penetrating power and causes deep-seated burns 

that heal very slowly. . . . When HF comes into contact with the skin, a burn results. If HF 

is not removed, it tends to keep penetrating with the production of a deep, slow-healing 

painful ulceration." Capt. John L. Ferry to Dr. Ralph Rosen, Kellex Corp, January 24, 

1944, Md 729.3 Safety 

Program Protection Against Hazards, Book 1, 6/25/42-7/31/44, Box 55, Accession 44. 

#4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. Also, the chemical was described by 
Dr. Stokinger as "possibly the greatest single source of minor incapacitation 
of workers" in the bomb plants. Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and 
Toxicology of Uranium Compounds. 

Confirmed in author interview with the ICI fluoride scientist Dick Powell. 
Such "conditioning" was a massive industrial undertaking. The uranium 
hexafluoride gas was so corrosive that thousands of pumps, blowers, and 
piping first had to be treated with either chlorine trifluoride, or elemental 


NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 /P. 56 275 

fluorine, leaving a thin film of fluoride on the machinery, protecting it from future 
corrosion. Joe Harding likened the process to "seasoning the interior of process 
equipment, like some people have heard of "burning-in' an old cast iron skillet." 
Memorandum to U. David Goldring from Birchard M. Brund-age 1st Lt., Medical Corps, 
July 13, 1945. "Subject: S-5o Medical Check-ups": Item I. "Definitions 1, Conditioning 
Area — Building in which parts and apparatus to be used in the Process Area are treated 
chemically before being placed in operational use." Item II. "Conditioning shop 
operator — handles the chemical preparation of equipment before it is handled for 
operations. He also cleans used equipment before its reconditioning and reuse in 
operations." Item III. "Hazard Classifications. 1, Most serious. A. Transfer room 
operator. B. Conditioning shop operator." S-5o, Box 14. Also, "Conditioning of 
Equipment," Manhattan Project Official History, book VI, p. 5.17. 

46. Joe Harding interviewed by Dolph Honicker, undated transcript supplied 

by his son, Cliff Honicker. 

47. Stokinger et al., The Enhancing Effect of the Inhalation of Hydrogen Fluoride 

Vapor on Beryllium Sulfate Poisoning in Animals, UR-68 University of Rochester, 
unclassified, June 13, 1949. Also, "Fluoride materials are undoubtedly 
significantly more toxic from the standpoint of acute disease than any other 
beryllium material now being handled at the Luckey plant." Memo from Merril 
Eisenbud to W. B. Harris, 2/27/51, Box 3353, MHS 2 Beryllium, Ger-mantown 
DOE History Archive. Eisenbud also estimated that 50 micrograms of 
beryllium — inhaled as beryllium fluoride — had "produced acute disease in three 
individuals" in just twenty minutes, and that "to produce injury by phosgene in a 
comparable period of time one would have to inhale approximately 50 
milligrams!" Health Hazards from Beryllium, Merril Eisenbud, speech presented 
at a meeting of the American Society for Metals, Boston, March 1954. Document 
DOE #051094-A-312, ACHRE, RG 220. 

48. For deaths: M. Eisenbud, "Origins of the Standards for Control of Beryllium 

Disease (1947-1949)," Environmental Research, vol. 27, no.l (February 1982). By June 
1949 Robert Hasterlik, the top doctor at Argonne National Laboratory, reported about 
sixty death from beryllium. Physics Today (June 1 949), p. 14. 

For sickness: "By far the greatest number of cases occurred in the fluoride handling 
operations," noted one government report on sickness at the Brush Beryllium Company 
in Lucky, Pennsylvania. Memo from Merril Eisenbud to W. B. Harris, stamped 
February 27, 1951: "Acute Beryllium Tox icity — Brush Beryllium Company — Lucky 
Experience," Div. Biology and Medicine, folder MHS 2 and Beryllium, Box 335, RG 
326. At Brush Beryllium Plant in Lorain, Ohio, "In July, 1947, 24 percent of employees 
in the beryllium metal department were stricken with dermatitis or respiratory disease, 
compared to 6.4 percent for all other departments. The apparent increase in rates may 
possibly be explained by the shifts in production to pure metals as the result of AEC 
contracts." Bob Tumbleson, "Public Relations Problems in Connection with 
Occupational Diseases in the Beryllium Industry." 

276 NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 /P. 56 

The Rochester Atomic Energy Project's Industrial Hygiene Section surveyed the 
Brush Beryllium Company in Lorain, Ohio, in December 1946 and found up to 64.1 
mg/m3 fluoride, with particle sizes below o.i micron (a crucial factor in determining 
toxicity). "The authors conclude that the relatively high fluoride concentrations obtained 
in the surveyed areas are of particular significance since they may represent a hazard by 
themselves and also suggest a combined action with beryllium. Further study of this 
factor is suggested, especially near the beryllium fluoride furnace where the relative 
fluoride concentration was moo times that of beryllium." Bob Tumbleson, Public and 
Technical Information Service. "Public Relations Problems in Connection with 
Occupational Diseases in the Beryllium Industry," p. 18, Medicine, Health and 
Safety— Beryllium (1947-1948), RG 326. 

49. Memo from Bob Tumbleson to Morse Salisbury, "Current Status of the Beryllium 
Problem," January 26, 1948. "Although the four neighborhood cases appeared at Brush 
in Lorain, the reporter from the Cleveland PRESS interviewed [AEC official] 
Wyndecker at Clifton, Painesville. . . . Wyndecker tried to quiet him by saying that a 
large part of their work was being done for AEC and hence was secret." RG 326 
Medicine, Health and Safety — Beryllium ( 1947-1948) National Archive. 

50. Turner reported: "Control experiments with electrolytic dust produced with fluorides, 
but in the absence of Beryllium, caused the same symptoms and mortality. It is evident, 
therefore, that electrolytic dust owes its toxicity primarily to the halogen radical 
[fluoride] and not to its content of Beryllium." Robert A. N. Turner, Resident Safety 
Engineer, Madison Square Area, Manhattan Engineer District, "The Toxicity of 
Beryllium and Its Salts," p. 2, "Oak Ridge Copy," Box 39, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, 
Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

51. Robert A. N. Turner, Resident Safety Engineer, Madison Square Area, Manhattan 
Engineer District, "Poisoning by Vapors of Beryllium Oxyfluorides," p. 1, "Oak Ridge 
Copy," Box 39, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

52. See Rochester AEP, minutes of "The Second Progress Meeting on Beryllium Toxicity," 
February 5 and 6, 1947. Also, "The First Progress Meeting on Beryllium Toxicity": 0.5 
mg/kg of "5BeO-7BeF2" killed rats, while 0.75 mg/kg of intravenous beryllium fluoride 
and beryllium oxyfluoride killed rabbits. "Injection of beryllium oxyfluoride ... caused 
histologic damage to the kidney probably as a result of the fluoride moiety." (5.0 mg/kg 
BeS04, beryllium sulfate, killed rats.) This meeting produced a crucial determination of 
a permissible limit of 1.5 mg of beryllium compound (underlined in original) per 10 
m3 of air. By not specifying which compound, public notice was not made of the specific 
and more toxic nature of the fluoride compounds, it seems. Indeed, just days later, the 
head of the Rochester AEP, Herbert Stokinger, made a recommendation of 1.5 mg of 
beryllium per 10 m3 to the AEC for the "Maximal permissible Limit of Exposure to 
Beryllium. " He does not mention nor cite the fluoride toxicity results but rather uses 
figures from the beryllium sulfate compound, which Rochester had 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 /P. 57 277 

determined to be ten times less toxic. Stokinger adds, "The suggested level permits an 
easily attained limit both as regards ventilator and ventilating system." H. E. Stokinger 
to Fred Bryan, February i8, 1947, Rochester, 400.112 (Pharmacology) Beryllium, Box 
48, New York Operations Office, 68Foo36, Accession #4kr 326-83-010, Atlanta FRC, 
RG 326. 

Also, researchers at Rochester and at the PHS did not find much toxic effect, 
chronic or acute, with pure beryllium, which fact allowed industry to deny that there was 
any great problem from beryllium poisoning. A hint at the agenda of the Rochester 
group and of Dr. Harold Hodge in particular comes from one of the leading scientists on 
beryllium toxicity, Dr. Harriet Hardy. "Those responsible for the medico-legal affairs of 
the AEC should consider the problem of the disability involved in the growing group of 
individuals with chronic beryllium disease," she writes and adds that "cases of chronic 
beryllium poisoning are being uncovered daily from a variety of remote and apparently 
slight beryllium exposures." However, Hardy writes, while "The chronic disease is 
certainly our most pressing problem, and at present the whole weight of the Rochester 
work, if I understood Dr. Hodge, is on the acute manifestation. ... I cannot understand 
the defeatist attitude about producing chronic changes in animals with beryllium 
compounds sufficiently approximate to the human pathology." Dr. Hardy to Dr. Warren 
" Recent trips to Cleveland and Rochester," September 13, 1949, DOE Open-net 

"Thus, we have a kind of explosive action with the formation of fluorine in status 
nascendi," Turner stated. "Hence the deeper and most important, more prolonged action 
of this gas in comparison with that which we see following the inhalation not only of 
oxides of nitrogen and chlorine but also vapors of fluorine or hydrofluoric acid," p. 6 
"The action of the fluorine in such conditions is especially strong and prolonged," 
Turner adds, "which in fact conditions the specificity of the picture of poisoning by 
Beryllium oxyfluoride." Robert A. N. Turner, Resident Safety Engineer, Madison 
Square Area, Manhattan Engineer District "Poisoning by Vapors of Beryllium 

Although the Maximum Allowable Concentration (MAC) for U0 ,F had been officially 
set by the government at 50 micrograms of uranium per cubic meter, nevertheless, "the 
lowest concentration of these compounds that will give a uniformly positive response in 
all animals has not been critically established." Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., 
53 Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds, p. 2203. Hodge's researchers 

produced renal injury in a dog at even 50 micrograms/cu m. Dogs were judged to have 
"unusual susceptibility." Also, Harold C. Hodge and Carl Voegtlin at the University of 
Rochester to Lt. Col. H. L. Friedell at Oak Ridge, April 26, 1945. Md 3, Md 700, 
General Essays, Lectures, Box 34, Manhattan Engineer District Accession #4nn 
326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. "Uranyl fluoride is considered one of the most toxic 
uranium compounds," wrote Harold Hodge, Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium 


278 NOTES TO CHAPTER 4/ P. 57 

p. 33. Also, "It was envisioned that exposures of human beings to this compound 

would occur mostly by inhalation and almost solely to the fumes, UO FO and HF, 

produced upon its release into the air. Such exposure might take the form of either 

accidental high concentrations for a relatively short time, possibly repeated several 

times during a month, or of low level, continuous exposures throughout the period of 

employment arising from the loss of small amounts of material from systems 

containing UF6." Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds, p. 1492. 

Dangerous levels of fluoride were quickly detected in K25 plant workers' urine. In 

the early summer of 1952, for example, almost io percent of employees tested had too 

much fluoride in their bodies, doctors reported. And the poisoning was getting worse, 

"the result of an increase in the magnitude and frequency of individual exposure to 

fluoride and fluorinated compounds," officials added. Of S35 workers, 58 tested. 

"Sanitized version of K-25 Plant Quarterly Report for Fourth Fiscal Quarter April I- June 

30, 1952," p. E-9, ORFi0006o5, Oak Ridge, DOE Public Reading Room. 

55. Letter to Ralph Rosen of the Kellex Corporation, which built the K-25 plant. 

Ferry told Dr. Rosen it was "likely" that the concentrations of gas would be at or "near" 
the level set for chronic exposure. (However, the MAC for UO F was then set at 150 
micrograms per cubic meter. That level was reduced to 50 micrograms in 1948, although 
University of Rochester scientists found kidney damage in dogs at that level too; see 
note 53 above. No information was found on whether the conditions inside the cold trap 
chamber changed after 1948 as the MAC was raised.) Captain John L. Ferry to Dr. Ralph 
Rosen, Kellex Corporation, June 16, 1944 Safety Program Protection Against Hazards, 
Book 1, 6125/42-7/31/44, Md 7293, Box 55, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, 
RG 326. A similar hazard faced workers at the Harshaw Chemical plant, who made 
uranium hexafluoride for shipment to Oak Ridge. " Workmen inhale 616 [code for 
hexafluoride] when disconnecting the receivers from the reactors," noted a report. "A 
cloud of hydrolyzed 616 escapes during this operation and is not entirely vented," the 
memo added. Memo from Capt. B. J. Mears, the Madison Square Area, October 11, 
1945, to Captain Fred A. Bryan, Medical Section, Manhattan District, Oak Ridge 
Tennessee. Subject: Urinalysis on Harshaw Chemical Company Workers. 

56. Tape-recorded interview with Joe Harding. 

57. Several accounts mention the noise and heat inside the gaseous diffusion 

plant. An early report determining how long men could tolerate working in the "cells" 
notes temperatures of n8 degrees F and states that "Entrance into a cell which is in 
operation is a dramatic experience to the uninitiated, apt to be associated with some 
emotionalism. The noise within the cell might be responsible for part of the light 
headedness experienced, although the symptom is also recognized as a result of severe 
heat exposure." "Permissible Work Periods in Cells," Box 9, Accession #72C2386, 
Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

58. Accidents were frequent at K-25. For example, "On April 1, a release 

occurred in Building K- loo4-A when a cylinder containing 2 559 grams of uranium 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4/ PP. 58-59 279 

hexailuoride became overheated during a material transferring operation, releasing the 
entire contents of the cylinder." Sanitized version of K-25 Plant Quarterly Report for 
Fourth Fiscal Quarter April I-June 30, 1952. In ORF I0060S Oak Ridge DOE Public 
Reading Room. Also, "On December 30th [ 1953] • • . a total of 2,506 pounds of uranium 
hexafluoride . . . was released [ when a cylinder failed], contaminating all of Building 
K-27 . . . the gas was spread widely before the ventilating system could be shut down." 
K-959-Plant Quarterly Report for Second Fiscal Quarter, October 1-December 31, 1952, 
p. C-12, in ORF 18729, Oak Ridge, DOE Public Reading Room. 59. Another worker, 
Sam Ray of Lucasville, Ohio, told Congress in September 2000 that "Compressors would 
malfunction and process gas (UF6) would leak to the atmosphere. On one occasion, it 
was so bad that it looked like a fog moving up the mile long building. . . . We have had 
many small releases that were never reported, as well as documented large releases. 
Inside of the withdrawal room we had a major release. There were green "icicles' hanging 
in the room from crystallize uranium hexafluoride." He also told them that" process gases 
were routinely vented to the atmosphere" and "fluorine gases from the plant stack area 
were frequent and resulted in numerous complaints from workers in the area, especially 
during temperature inversions." Compensation for Illnesses Realized by Department of 
Energy Workers Due to Exposure to Hazardous Materials. Hearing before the 
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims of the Committee on the Judiciary House of 
Representatives Io6th Congress, serial no. 132, p. 210. 

60. Col. Stafford Warren to Dr. Fred Bryan, September 24, 1947, DOE stamp 

000019, ACHRE, RG 220. 

61. Report of Meeting of Classification Board During Week of September 8, 1947, 

Box S09F01B22, ACHRE, RG 220. See also handwritten letter in ACHRE files 
from an unnamed fluoride worker who worked at Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion 
Plant in Piketon, Ohio, in the 195os. He writes: "In the early years we used to talk 
about young people dying from cancer and leukemia that worked at the plant and 
wondered if it was due to working there." DOE document #00001o, Box 
So9olB146, ACHRE, RG 220. 

62. An additional five workers were poisoned by "fluorine analogs of phosgene," 

plant operators at Union Carbide claimed, caused by "pyrolysis of fluoro-carbons 
and fluorolubes." Phosgene can be produced when Freon gas is exposed to very 
high temperatures. "Summary ofK-25 chemical hazards," RHTG Ioiool, Box 219, 
RG 326. The document was only declassified in 1997-"Poisoning" was one of the 
health effects reported at K-25, along with respiratory irritation, burns, and 

63. Work Report for June 1944 To: The Chief of the Medical Section, U.S. Engi- 

neer Office, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; From: 2nd Lt. Richard Tybout, Corp of 
Engineers, Medical Section. Document via Pete Eisler, USA Today. 

64. "A distinct hazard does exist in Area C" that left the Atomic Energy Com- 

mission "very vulnerable," Kelly concluded. The government especially feared 
"pulmonary damage" in workers. While safety levels for uranium 

280 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 4 / PP. 59-61 

hexafluoride had been set at 40 micrograms per cubic meter, tests showed that on 
September 30, 1944, dust levels in Area C were as high as 9,130 micro-grams per cubic 
meter — 228 times the official tolerance level. March 1,1945, letter to Harshaw manager 
Fred Becker from Richard Tybout, 1st Lt. Corps of Engineers Medical Section, via Pete 

65. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication, p. 26. 

66. Analysis of the kidney tissue of one of the victims by the University of Roch- 

ester confirmed severe fluoride damage. "The pathological changes in the kidney are 
accounted for by the overwhelming dose of HF and the acute asphyxia." Capt. B. J. 
Mears to the District Engineer, Manhattan District, Oak Ridge (Attention: Major J. L. 
Ferry.) November 1, 1945. Oak Ridge Operations Records Holding Task Group. 
Classified Documents 1944-1994, RHTG document #38,658, ORoo34167, Box 214, 
Vault, Bldg. 2714-H. 

67. Rochester kidney report: "This report is of particular interest because (name 

redacted) was employed in the C-616 [uranium hexafluoride] plant and his duties 
required him to remove the receiver from the reactors. It is in this procedure that the 
employees come in contact with a cloud of PG [process gas] ... he was exposed to 
C-616 to the same extent as any other single employee." Capt. B. J. Mears to the 
District Engineer, Manhattan District, Oak Ridge (Attention: Major J. L. Ferry.) 
November 1, 1945. Oak Ridge Operations Records Holding Task Group, classified 
documents 1944-1994, RHTG document #38,658, ORoo34167, Box 214, Vault, Bldg. 

68. P. Dale and H. B. McCauley, "A Study of Dental Conditions in Workers 

Exposed to Dilute and Anhydrous Hydrofluoric Acid in Production," December 31, 
1943, File G-118, New York Operations Research and Medicine Division, 
Correspondence 1945-1952, Box 28-47, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

Also, on race: "Specimens showing large amount of T [code for uranium] are 
usually from the colored employees," noted an October 1945 memo from Manhattan 
Project Capt. B. J. Mears. "Because of their lack of personal responsibility," Mears 
complained, "this officer recommended that these specimens be collected before the 
employee starts to work." Of course, if workers gave urine specimens before their shift 
began, it would have the effect of measuring and recording lower levels of toxic 
exposure than they were actually receiving. Capt. Mears discriminated between the 
black workers and "employees who can be trusted." They were allowed to give urine at 
the end of their shift. Perhaps more importantly, those "trusted" workers, "consistently 
show T values well below 1 mg per liter." Memo from Capt. B. J. Mears, the Madison 
Square Area, October If, 1945, to Captain Fred A. Bryan, Medical Section, Manhattan 
District, Oak Ridge Tennessee. Subject: Urinalysis on Harshaw Chemical Company 
Workers, via Pete Eisler. 

69. P. Dale and H. B. McCauley, J. Am. Dent. Assoc, vol. 37, no. 2 (August 

1948), p. 132. 

70. Fedor formed a union safety committee, then contacted the Ohio Division of 

Safety and Health and persuaded that office to do a study of conditions in 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 / P. 61 281 

the fluoride plant. The state inspectors found fluoride levels as high as 6 and even 18 
ppm. State regulation permitted 3 parts per million. In 1949 Fedor submitted the first 
motion to an American Federation of Labor national convention, seeking greater 
union involvement in occupational safety issues. 
Author interview, October 2001. 

Despite multiple warnings from federal and state government, the industrial 
accidents, and pressure from John Fedor's safety committee, Harshaw's management 
seemed strangely unmoved. "Our plant hourly safety committee has been quite 
concerned about our HF problems, and I believe are exaggerating them, as I believe the 
hazards in Area C have been exaggerated," Vice President C. S. Parke wrote to the AEC 
official W. E. Kelly on February 3, 1948. "I speak somewhat as a layman, but we have 
manufactured HF fluorides for forty years. It is only lately that occupational disease has 
been suspected. Two of our men are reputed to have fluorosis, but nobody can tell us how 
this has harmed them. In fact, the inference by some doctors is that they have benefited. 
Certainly the situation is nothing to get alarmed at." C. S. Parke to W. E. Kelly, February 
3, 1948. AEC document via Pete Eisler. 72. Secretly the government was intensely 
interested in the medical fate of the Area C workers. When the plant finally closed in 
1952, AEC doctors proposed covertly "keeping tabs" on former employees — without 
letting the men and women know why they were being watched. "The ultimate objective 
is to determine the incidence of lung cancer ... to justify the current M.A.C.'s [maximum 
allowable concentrations in the other AEC plants]," Dr. Roy E. Albert, the Assistant 
Chief of the Division of Biology and Medicine, explained in a 1955 letter to the 
University of Rochester's Dr. Louis H. Hempleman. "We have racked our brains for any 
useful subterfuge in carrying out the study but none came to mind which could possibly 
hold water for any length of time," he added. 

The subterfuge they used in the end to examine former workers at the 
Cleveland City Hospital was explained to a hospital doctor, Dr. Robert R. Stahl. "To 
put it baldly, "Albert wrote Dr. Stahl on August i, 1955, "I think we are fundamentally 
interested in the autopsy data, the examination program being a mechanism to keep 
tabs on the people involved in the survey." Extreme care was needed. If too much 
medical data were gathered from the workers, "there would be a distinct risk of 
stimulating lawsuits against the Atomic Energy Commission," Dr. Albert 
emphasized to Dr. Joseph T. Wearn at the School of Medicine at Western Reserve 
University in Cleveland, who would supervise the "study." 

The plan fell through. Dr. Stahl was appalled when he read the AEC proposal. 
He pushed the government men away, with an admonition about medical ethics. 
"The project protocol ... grossly misrepresents the type of information that AEC is 
apparently attempting to obtain," Dr. Stahl told Dr. Albert. "Basically," he added, "a 
health survey is being used as a "front' for obtaining such autopsy data . . . since this 
is the basic motive involved 

neither Dr. Scott nor myself are interested in such a project." The AEC had wanted to 
keep the men's records secret. "Allow me to remind you," Stahl added, "that a physician 
has a legal responsibility toward any patient seen to keep this patient's records in his 
files." File 092694-a, Box So95olB196, ACHRE, RG 220. 

One disturbing aspect of this proposed study is the number of people who appear to 
have known of the gravity of the workers' exposure. For example, a May 7, 1953 memo 
to the Executive office of the CDC, from Alexander D. Longmuir, chief of the PHS 
Epidemiology Branch, states, Thursday morning I received a telephone call from Dr. 
Roy E. Albert, Medical Officer, New York Operations Office, AEC, 70 Columbus 
Avenue, New York City. Dr. Albert called me at the suggestion of my personal friend, 
Dr. David D. Rutstein, Professor of Preventive Medicine Harvard Medical School, 
because he felt we might be interested in a proposal he had to make. His proposal was 
the desirability of a follow up of between 400 and 600 employees of the Harshaw 
Chemical Company in Cleveland, Ohio. These employees were exposed for a period of 
from one to three years in 1945, *946, and 1947 to 600 times the tolerance dose of 
radioactive dust, resulting from the processing of uranium and radon. ... In view of 
reports from Europe, that uranium miners suffer an exceptionally high incidence of 
cancer of the lung, Dr. Albert and his advisory groups recommend that these employees 
also be studied for the same condition." Memo cc'd Dr. Roy E Albert and Dr. Alexander 
Gilliam. Medicine Health and Safety, AEC, RG 326. 

Stafford L. Warren, The Role of Radiology in the Development of the Atomic Bomb, p. 
856. DOE Opennet accession #NV0729o54« 
In the official review of the material releases from Oak Ridge and the relationship to 
community health effects, fluoride emissions were not even 73 considered, an omission that 
concerned at least one top scientist. Letter to Dr. Kowetha A. Davidson, Chair Oak Ridge 
Reservation Health Effects 74 Subcommittee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, from 
Kathleen M. Thiessen, ' PhD Senior Scientist, SENES, Oak Ridge, January 16, 2001. Re: Oak 
Ridge Reservation Health Effects Subcommittee and review of the Oak Ridge Dose 
Reconstruction. Thiessen wrote that "there are a number of contaminants that were never 
evaluated quantitatively during either the Oak Ridge Dose Reconstruction (1994_2ooo) or the 
preceding Phase I Dose Reconstruction Feasibility Study (1992-1993). ... [It is clear . . . that 
the fluorine and fluoride releases from K-25 alone were very large. ... It is my professional 
opinion that the historical fluorine and fluoride releases from the K-25 and Y-12 sites should 
be assessed quantitatively, both with respect to the amounts of material used and released, and 
with respect to the potential health implications for off-site individuals." cc: Rear Admiral 
Robert Williams, ATSDR, Mr. Jack Hanley, ATSDR. 

Paducah began production in 1954 At Portsmouth, Ohio, which opened in x 954, "the 
quantity of fluorine to be released was steadily increasing and that this fluorine could 
not be contained in any holding drum, but must be vented 

to keep the cascade in proper operation." Memo to H. L Caterson to K. H. Hart, 'Venting 
of Fluorine from the X-326 Building, October 3, 1955, 1089/120" cited in Arjun 
Makhijani, Bernd Franke, and Milton Hoenig, Preliminary Estimates of Emissions of 
Radioactive Materials and Fluorides to the Air from the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion 
Plant, 1954-1984(unpublished), p. 19. 

76. Several of the Area C workers referred to the bridge damage and to the paint tarnishing on 
cars. The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit for $9,960,000 in Cuyahoga County Common 
Pleas Court alleging "fluoride fumes from the plant at -woo Harvard Ave., SE over the 
past twenty-two years, have destroyed the nearby Harvard Dennison Bridge." National 
Fluoridation News (January-February, 1971), p. 2. 

77- Pharmacology Report #558) Monthly Progress Report for June 1947, Box S09F0IB227, 
ACHRE, RG 220. 

78. AEC Monthly Status and Progress Reports, July 1949 via Pete Eisler, USA Today. The 

same document notes the "disastrous Donora episode of last winter." 

79. Sadtler told me that after World War II, "I was lecturing to the American Chemical 

Society in Cleveland . . . [on] "smoke, dust, fumes and fellow travellers.' . . . And a 
lawyer came up to me and said the judge wants to do something for the monsignor in a 
certain section of Cleveland. And we agreed that I would investigate. ... I did find out 
that Harshaw Chemical was letting off, I believe, HF." 

80. "At the present time, at least to percent of the fluorine generated for use in 

the manufacture of uranium hexafluoride is unavoidably lost in the vent gases from the 
process. The recovery of this fluorine has become of prime importance since the 
expansion of the uranium hexafluoride manufacturing facilities to the 48 tons of 
uranium per day production level. The estimated cost of the vented fluorine will amount 
to $400,000 per year based on the above percentage lost and a cost per pound of so. 65." 
Memo, "Recovery of Fluorine from Feed Plant Vent Gases," March 2, 1955, 0E114753, 
ORF18718 for plant damage. Both in Oak Ridge DOE Public Reading Room. 

For dumping, see Capt. Bernard Blum to Lt. Col. Luvern W. Kehe, "Contamination 
of Water in Poplar Creek," August to, 1945, Md 319.1, General Essays, Lectures, Box 
34, Manhattan Engineer District Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

81. See also Chapters 5 and 8. For accounts of pollution in New Jersey and 

Pennsylvania, see 'The Peach Crop Cases." See also, for litigation, E. J. Largent, 
Fluorosis: The Health Aspects of Fluorine Compounds (Columbus, OH: Ohio State 
University Press, 1961), p. 124. "Claims of damage to plants and animals appeared in 
almost epidemic numbers along the Delaware River in the Philadelphia area in 1944 and 
1945... Since the beginning of this same period of time, a series of claims of fluoride 
induced damage have appeared in Tennessee." 

82. "Fluorine is an extremely toxic and hazardous chemical. There are three 

potential liabilities associated with its release to the atmosphere. The first 

284 NOTES TO CHAPTER 4 / PP. 63-66 

and most significant is the potential effect on agriculture crops and livestock in the 
surrounding area. . . . The second significant liability is a hazard to personnel in the 
immediate area, both employees and the general public. The maximum allowable 
concentration of fluorine in the air as recommended by the national advisory group, the 
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, is o.i part per million. 
Any appreciable release of fluorine to the atmosphere will in all probability result in 
some concentrations in excess of this level. Although concentrations considerably in 
excess of this level can be tolerated without permanent injury, a basis for complaint and 
possible legal action does exist." Letter A. J. Garcia to C. L. Becker, " Fluorine Air 
Pollution at GAT Plant Site, August 30, 19S4, 1089/124." Cited in Arjun Makhijani et 
al„ Preliminary Estimates. 

83. A. Stem, Air Pollution (New York: Academic Press, 1962), p. 391. 

84. J. G. Rogers et al., Environmental Surveillance of the U.S. Department of 

Energy Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant and Surrounding Environs during 1987, 
April 1988, (ES/ESH-4/V4), 18. See also Makhijani, Franke, and Hoenig, Preliminary 
Estimates of Emissions of Radioactive Materials and Fluorides, p. 20. 

Also, for later HF releases at the Portsmouth, Ohio gaseous diffusion plant, 
although Ohio had no standards for gaseous fluorides: "As of 1986, Kentucky's seven 
day ambient air standard was .8 microgram HF/m3 ... in comparison data recording 
sheets from 1973 show individual fluoride measurements as high as 5 micrograms/m3. 
1982 and 1983 measurements also exceeded the above standard, with the maximum 
off-site average monthly concentrations of fluorides as HF around the plant varying 
between 1.94 and 6.09 microgram/m3 in 1982, and between 1.83 and 15.1 
microgram/m3 in 1983." Cited in Makhijani et al., Preliminary Estimates, p. 21. 

Chapter 5 

1. Three years later Harold Hodge would look out over another spectacular 

view as an official observer of the 1946 atomic bomb blast at Bikini Atoll in the South 
Pacific. H. Hodge, J. Dental Res., vol. 26 (1947), pp. 435-439. 

2. Md 600.914, Progress Reports Rochester, Box 47, Accession #4nn 326-85- 

005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

3. Priorities were determined by combining the rating of: "(1) the toxicity and (2) the 
number of persons who had real or potential exposure to each compound." The top 
toxicological priorities were (uranium compounds) U0 ,.F2 and (nonuranium) F, and HF. 
Harold Hodge and Carl Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium 
Compounds, with a Section on the Pharmacology and Toxicology of Fluorine and 
Hydrogen Fluoride (New York: McGraw Hill, 1949), historical foreword, p. 5. 

4. Hein interview with Bob Woffinden, timecode 04.21.13, 1997. 

5. Hodge was a lead author with R. E. Gosselin, R. P. Smith, and M. E. Glea- 

son of Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, 5th ed. (Baltimore, MD: Williams 
and Wilkins, 1984). 


6. "Harold C. Hodge, 1904-1990, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeu- 

tics: Oral Biology: San Francisco." In Memoriam. E. Newbrun et al„ University of 
California, web posting. 

7. Biographical details in P. Morrow et al., "Profiles in Toxicology — Harold 

Carpenter Hodge (1904-1990)," Toxicological Sciences, vol. 53 (2000), pp. 

8. A once secret document, "Detailed Duties of Dr. Harold C. Hodge," lists 
the problems his Pharmacology Section helped to solve. One problem, the " 
necessity of stated daily maximum intake of fluoride to avoid poisoning," 
was solved at the Conference on Fluorine Metabolism at the Hotel Pennsyl 
vania in New York in January 1944. Hodge was one of the experts who set 
the maximum allowable concentration of "6 ppm as project allowable expo 
sure per day" (emphasis in original). Folder 2, Box So9F01B219, ACHRE, 
RG 220. 

Hodge was elsewhere also clearly conscious of the health toll the war's haste 
imposed upon workers. For example, in April 1945 he explained to Col. Hymer 
Friedell the reasons for increasing the maximum allowable con centration of 
uranium tetrafluoride and several other uranium compounds in bomb factories 
from 150 to 500 micrograms of uranium per cubic meter of factory air. It was an 
"emergency war measure to expedite industrial production," he explained, "a 
compromise between the air concentration which can be maintained during 
maximum production and the chance of injury to plant workers." Carl Voegtlin and 
Harold Hodge to Hymer Friedell, April 26, 1945. (Voegtlin was the retired head of the 
National Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester during the war.) This 
measure was implemented, directly affecting the work environment of thousands of 
Manhattan Project industrial workers. Col. Warren explained the new standard more 
bluntly: "In view of the extreme difficulty in maintaining concentrations of 150 
micrograms per cubic meter in industry, it is felt that such a change will be of definite 
benefit in expediting the war effort." Warren to the Area Engineers, June 1945. Both 
documents in Mm 3, Md 700, General Essays, Lectures, Box 34, Manhattan 
Engineer District Accession #411n 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

9. A key text is Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of 
Uranium Compounds. See also, J. H. Simons, Fluorine Chemistry, vol. IV, by 
Harold C. Hodge and Frank A. Smith (New York: Academic Press, 1965) 
supported in part by a contract with the U.S. AEC at the University of Roch 
ester Atomic Energy Project. 

10. Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds, 
historical foreword, p. 1. 

11. Hein interview with Mark Watts for Channel 4 Television in the United Kingdom. 
Interview recorded for "Don't Swallow Your Toothpaste," a program that aired in 
June 1997. 

12. Lansing Lamont, Day of Trinity (New York: Atheneum, 1985), p. 251: " The 
specter of endless lawsuits haunted the military." See also Groves's memo, 

286 NOTES TO CHAPTER 5/ P. 67 

cited in chapter 4, note 2, asking for toxicity data. According to the Harvard professor Phillip 
Drinker, a member of the AEC Stack Gas Committee and an AEC litigation consultant, "In 
1947 AEC was apprehensive about dam-age suits from personnel allegedly injured by 
radiations or by exposure to various chemicals used." Phillip Drinker to Dr. Thomas Shipman, 
Health Division Leader, Los Alamos, November 14, 1950, Medicine Health and Safety, RG 

For insurance, see article for Aetna's internal magazine The Aetna-izer, submitted by 
Vice President Clifford B. Morcom to Col. K. D. Nichols, August 31, 1945 for review. 'The 
billion-dollar atomic bomb plant at Oak Ridge, Term., is probably the most interesting and 
important of the large number of war projects on which the Aetna Casualty and Surety 
Company provided coverage in whole or in part, in the last few years. ... As a result of this 
need for iron-clad secrecy, the representatives of the Manhattan Project could not even hint to 
us, or to anyone else, as to what the product of the Clinton Engineer Works was going to be, 
or what exposures or hazards there would be in its manufacture. It was manifestly impossible 
for us to provide insurance on any regular basis in view of these circumstances; but the 
government had asked for our help, and we were anxious to comply." The following passage 
is scratched out: "in essence, the plan placed the facilities of our organization at the disposal 
of our policyholders; and, in return for this, the Government agreed to reimburse us for any 
losses we might sustain." Aetna, Office of Public Information 1944-1957 Box 12, Accession 
#73Ao898, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

For Travelers, see memo to Col. Warren from Capt. Ferry, March 25, 1944, "Conference 
in Wilmington, loth March 1944." Five DuPont officials, two majors from the Manhattan 
Project, and Mr. Wm. M. Worrell of the Travelers Insurance Co. "Item 3. In a number of 
instances, men working on construction have been exposed to fumes from processes which 
give off HF in concentrations sufficient to make them leave their work temporarily. In at 
least one case illness followed the exposure." Md 700.2, Univ. of Rochester ( Medical), Box 
54, Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

Groves, Now It Can Be Told, p. 57: 'To facilitate the handling of claims not resulting 
from a major catastrophe a special fund was established. This fund was placed under the 
control of du Pont so that it could continue to be available for many years." And on March 28, 
1944 at a conference on Extra-Hazardous Insurance attended by the military officials 
and industrial contractors readying the K-25 plant, Keflex management stated that they were 
"especially concerned" about the health risk from fluoride exposures. The K-25 employees 
were, accordingly, defined by a simple criterion, their exposure to fluoride, and categorized 
"into three (3) groups; those having regular, casual or no exposure to C616 and C216 [codes 
for uranium hexa-fluoride and fluorine gas]." At the conference Col. Warren was informed 
that" the decision was made by Kellex officials that the names of all employees would be 
submitted to the [Manhattan Project's] District Insurance Sec- 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5/ P. 67 287 

tion, with estimates of the amount of their exposure." Memo to Col. Stafford Warren 
from Capt Ferry, April 4, 1944. "Conference on Extra-Hazardous Insurance 28 March 
1944." Md 337, New York Meetings and Conferences, Box 30, Accession #4nn 
326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 13 Several of the Manhattan Project's biggest 
industrial contractors had been badly exposed to worker lawsuits before the war. In the 
mid-1930s Union Carbide — now running the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant at Oak 
Ridge — had endured congressional scrutiny and legal claims following the Gauley 
Bridge silicosis deaths. DuPont, too, had won cruel headlines in the early 19305 from the 
New York press following an epidemic of death and injury at its New Jersey terra ethyl 
lead plants. 

Bomb-program officials also recalled the prewar litigation and public scandal 
over female workers who had died following their employment at the U.S. Radium 
Corporation in Orange, New Jersey, their jaws eaten by cancer after licking radium 
from the brushes they had wetted to paint luminescent watch dials. See, for example, 
"Review of Document" by L. F. Spalding of the Insurance Branch to Charles A. Keller, 
Declassification Officer, February 5, 1948: "We have reviewed ["Biochemical Studies 
Relating to the Effects of Radiation and Metals" by Samuel Schwartz] from a 
nontechnical point of view and although it is conceivable that the contents thereof 
might arouse some claim consciousness on the part of former employees we are unable 
to predict that the Commission's interests would be unjustifiably prejudiced by its 
publication. However, in the event latent disabilities due to exposures reported in this 
document should result in publicity similar to that which arose out of the "radium dial' 
industry, the public relations division would be involved." Document S09FO lb22, File 
DOE 120994-AA #1 ACHRE, RG 220. 

See also Hodge, J. Dent. Res., vol. 26 (1947), pp. 435-439. 'These women, 
despite all safeguards, persisted in tipping on their tongues the brushes they were 
using to apply radium paint to airplane dials. Those unfortunate enough to retain lethal 
amounts of radioactive material died of cancer from radium deposited in the bones; 
deaths were recorded five, ten, fifteen years later." For an excellent summary of the 
radium dial painters, see Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files (New York: Dial Press, 
1999), p. 47. 

See for example, The Medical Section has been charged with the responsibility of 
obtaining toxicological data which will insure the District's being in a favorable 
position in case litigation develops from exposure to the materials," Col. Stafford 
Warren to Dr. John Foulgar of DuPont's Haskell Laboratory in a letter dated August 
12, 1944 Box 25, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. Also, it appears that 
some studies were simply not performed, or at least that data were not published. 
Where are the published studies of the toxicity of oxygen fluoride, a chemical that 
Hodge's team referred to as " the most toxic substance known" and was listed as a high 
priority for bomb program investigation? Where are the chronic studies on the various 
fluorocarbon compounds being used in the diffusion plants? The reluctance 

288 NOTES l'O CHAPTER 5 / P. 68 

of Hodge's team to perform such studies, which of course better resembled the actual 
conditions workers faced, was a frustration of Harvard University's Harriet Hardy, a 
leading beryllium researcher. "The chronic disease is certainly our most pressing problem, 
and at present the whole weight of the Rochester work, if I understood Dr. Hodge, is on 
the acute manifestation.... I cannot understand the defeatist attitude about producing 
chronic changes in animals with beryllium compounds sufficiently approximate to the 
human pathology." Dr. Hardy to Dr. Warren, "Recent trips to Cleveland and Rochester," 
September 13, 1949, DOE Opennet #1153735. 

15. Col. Stafford Warren, Memorandum to the Files, "Purpose and Limitations of the 
Biological and Health Physics Research Program," July 30, 1945, p. 3, Medical and 
Health Problems, Box 36, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

16. Lt. Col. Hymer Friedell, Memo, "Future Medical Research Program," Feb- 

ruary 26, 1946, is found as the third item in a file located at 0712317 in the Department 
of Energy's HREX electronic search engine. 

17. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation had funded broad 
programs of dental research at Rochester, Yale, and Harvard during the 
Depression, seeking to improve the terrible condition of teeth in the United 
States. There is no indication in the files seen by this author that the prewar 
granting was anything other than philanthropic in nature. 

For Hodge's resume, see his testimony before Cong. Wier. HR 2341: "A Bill to 
Protect the Public Health from the Dangers of Fluorination of Water." Hearings Before 
the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, 83rd 
Congress, May 25, 26, and 27, 1954, p. 470. "Since 1937 I have been continuously 
engaged part time as a consultant toxicolo-gist for a number of industrial companies." 

18. Hodge links to Eastman from author interview with toxicologist and Roch- 

ester alumnus Robert Phalen. 

19. The University of Rochester's Manhattan Project medical budget included 
specific funding for Rockefeller projects. Rochester Organizational Chart. 
Also, ESSO labs, Standard Oil, and the Rockefeller Institute were working 
on various projects, including the hexafluoride gas centrifuge. "PB 
authorizations as of March 9, 1942, 1/14/42 Standard Oil Development Co. 
Centrifuge method of separation leading to design of plant' PB #2 amount 
$loo,000'" and "3/9/42 Standard Oil Development Co. "Pilot Plant Building' 
PB #12 $250,000." Doc #310, Records of Section S-l Executive Committee, 
RG 227.3.1. The Carnegie Institute of Washington had fluoride interests, as 
well. It investigated liquid thermal diffusion with Philip Abelson as early as 
1941, in a precursor project to the Philadelphia Navy Yard project, which was 
itself a prototype of the S-5o complex at Oak Ridge. Amato, I., "Pushing the 
Horizon. Seventy-Five Years of High Stakes Science and Technology at the 
Naval Research Laboratory." 

See also Harold Urey, Program Chief, Columbia University to James Conant, 
January 19, 1942: "I wish to recommend that a contract be drawn 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5 / PP. 69-70 289 

to the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New York, NY for work on the 
separation of the uranium isotopes by the mobility method, this work to be done under the 
direction of Dr. Duncan A Maclnnes and Dr. Lewis G Longsworth." And November 19, 
1942, to Dr. Wensel from Urey: "I have asked the Rockefeller Institute people under Dr. 
Maclnnis to do some work on the chemical separation work ... I wonder if it would be 
possible to amend their contract." Doc #336, Records of Section S-l, Executive Com- 
mittee, RG 227.3.1. 

20. Col. Warren to Dr. John Foulger Box 25, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

21. Much of this account was cowritten with Joel Griffiths and first appeared in 

1997 in various alternative media outlets, including Earth Island Journal, eventually 
winning a 1999 Project Censored Award. 

22. Garfield Clark was measured at 25.6 ppm blood fluoride, Ollie Danner at 31.0 ppm. 
Farmer Willard Kille, diagnosed by his doctor as fluoride poisoned, had 15.0 ppm. 
Report submitted by Philip Sadtler, December 11, 1945. In Groves papers, NARA. That 
these levels are high can be seen from H. Hodge and F. A. Smith, Fluorine Chemistry, vol. 
IV, p. 15. (The New York Examiner's office made available for autopsy the bodies of fatal 
fluoride poisonings from 1935 to 1949. Those data showed fluoride blood levels of 
between 3.5 and 15.5 ppm.) 

23. The company's giant Chamber Works at Deepwater, New Jersey, near the mouth of the 
Delaware River, has long handled some of the company's most dangerous chemicals, with 
workers and the local community traditionally paying the price. During World War I as 
many as lo,000 workers had been employed there making munitions and poison gas, 
according to G. Colby, DuPont Dynasty: Behind the Nylon Curtain (Secaucus, NJ: Lyle 
Stuart, 1984), p 


Referring to World War I aftermath, Colby writes, "In DuPont's Deepwa-ter, New 
Jersey, plant across the river from Wilmington, workers died from poisonous fumes of 
the lethal benzol series, their bodies turning a steel blue. At the Penns Grove, New Jersey, 
plant workers were called "canaries': picric acid had actually dyed their skins yellow. 
Picric acid poisons the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, attacks the intestinal 
tract, and destroys the kidneys and nerve centers." In the 1920S several Deepwater 
workers had also been killed and hundreds injured in an horrific and months-long episode, 
dubbed by the New York press "the loony gas" poisoning, as DuPont began making the 
highly toxic gasoline additive tetra ethyl lead (TEL). Salem County, where the plant is 
located, had the highest rate of bladder cancer for white males in the United States from 
1950 to 1969, according to the National Cancer Institute. Also, the New York Times' 
Mary Churchill learned in January 1975 that since 1919, 330 employees at the plant had 
contracted bladder cancer. 

See also the testimony of Willis F. Harrington, former Chair of DuPont's Kinetic 
Chemicals, United States vs. DuPont (1953), p. 693. United States of 

290 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 5 / PP. 70 — 72 

America vs. E. 1. DuPont de Nemours, General Motors, United States Rubber, et al., 
Civil Action No. 49 C-lo71, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 
Eastern Division, before Judge LaBuy, April 13, 1953, p. 3798. For Manhattan Project 
employees during World War II, William C. Bern-stein, Captain Medical Corps. 
Memorandum To Colonel Stafford L. Warren, Chief Medical Section. November 3, 
1944. Subject: Report on Medical Section in Wilmington, Delaware. November 3, 
1944, Box 14, Wilmington Area, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. (Note 
attached from How-land, " total engaged in work of Manhattan District 1122.") 

24. William C. Bernstein, Captain Medical Corps. Memorandum to Colonel Stafford L. 
Warren, Chief Medical Section. November 3, 1944. Subject: Report on Medical 
Section in Wilmington, Delaware. November 3, 1944, Wilmington Area, Box 14, 
Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

25. B. J. Mears, Captain, Medical Corps, Assistant. Medical Clearance on Termi- 

nated Madison Square Area Contracts. To: The District Engineer, Manhattan District, 
Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (Attention: Major J. E. Ferry). October 5, 

1945, Medical Clearances, Terminated Madison Square Contracts, Box 36, 
Accession #4nn 326-87-6, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

26. William C. Bernstein Captain, Medical Corps, Memorandum to Col. Stafford 

L. Warren, Chief, Medical Section, Subject: Occupational Disability Cases Observed. 
November 3, 1944, Wilmington Area, Box 14, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta 
FRC, RG 326. 

27. To Stafford Warren, Subject: Supplementary Report of Medical Examination 

at X-Works [code for Chamber Works] February 2, 1945, Wilmington Area, Box 14, 
Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

28. William C. Bernstein, Captain, Medical Corps. Memorandum to Col. Stafford 

L. Warren, Chief Medical Section. November 3, 1944. Subject: Report on Medical 
Section in Wilmington, Delaware. November 3, 1944. Wilmington Area, Box 14, 
Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

29. "Memorandum to the files, Subject: Recapitulation of Work Accomplished 

During Temporary Duty at X Works." 1st. Lt. Birchard M. Brundage, February 17, 

30. Memo to Capt. B. Brundage (through Col. Warren), November 23, 1945 (draft 

version, accompanied by handwritten notes detailing other "nuisance claims") . General 
Correspondence, Box 36, New York Operations Research and Medicine Division, 
Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

31. Hodge to Warren, March II, 1946. Md 700.2, Division of Rochester, Atlanta 

FRC, RG 326. For volume of fluoride in air pollution, see example, "In the Kinetics 
plant, Mr Knowles described the practice of ten years back in which SiF4 was vented to 
the air. SiF4 is quite poisonous." Hodge to Warren, May 1, 

1946, cc Lt. Col. Rhodes, Crop Contamination (New Jersey), Box 33, Acces 
sion #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

32. Hodge to Warren, May 1, 1946, cc. Lt. Col. Rhodes, Crop Contamination ( 

New Jersey), Box 33, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 5 / PP. 72—75 291 

33- Lt. Col. Cooper Rhodes memo to General Nichols, "Subject: Conference with Mr. 
Willard B. Kille." March 25, 1946. Groves Papers, NARA, via Griffiths and 

34- Conference on Fluorine Residues, February 12,1946, Groves Papers, NARA, via 
Griffiths and Honicker. 

35. Cooper B. Rhodes, Lt. Col. "Memorandum for the Files. Subject: Peach 

Crop Cases (Kille et al. vs. DuPont), 2 May 1946. . . . Cc: General Groves, General 
Nichols." Groves Papers, NARA, via Honicker and Griffiths. 

36. Groves to the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, Pentagon Build- 

ing, Washington, DC, August 27, 1945, Groves Papers, NARA. 

37. Gen. Groves to Sen. McMahon, February 18, 1946, Groves Papers, NARA. 

38. The note to Groves's senior deputy includes a response, dated February 25, 1946. 
"General Groves: That firm of consulting chemists has been employed by the 
plaintiffs in the "peach crop' suits against DuPont, and Mr. Sadder has been very 
active in gathering evidence to present on behalf of the plaintiffs in those suits." 
Groves Papers, NARA, via Honicker and Griffiths. 

39. Multiple taped author interviews with Philip Sadder, March 1993. Also, account 
from The Chemist (1965), pp. 349-350; that the Sadder firm had testified on 
behalf of Coca-Cola to say that cocaine was not a chemical ingredient of the 

40. Sadtler recalled that one of the agents he had met in the New Jersey orchards later 
gave an account of their wartime sleuthing to the media. Joseph Mar-shall, "How 
We Kept the Atomic Bomb Secret," Saturday Evening Post, November to, 1945, 
includes the following story: "Once, in an East Coast city, Agents Harold Jensen 
and Harold Zindle were maintaining constant surveillance of an individual under 
suspicion of being involved with enemy agents." The Post story does not give the 
name of the person being tailed but reports that the government agents believed the 
"subject . . . apparently suspected he was under surveillance," and so they built a 
fence to block escape from the house via the rear. The published account concludes, 
"It is presumed that the subject is still wondering why his neighbor decided to put 
up the fence so suddenly, and his neighbor is wondering why the subject did. And 
Security is still wondering whether the subject is a spy." Sadtler told this writer that 
he had no idea he was under surveillance but that on one occasion, "I decided to 
take the car rather than the train and I jumped the fence so they did not see me 
come out." Sadtler was gutsy. He rented a plane and flew over the DuPont works, 
to investigate the pollution, further displeasing authorities. Author interview. 

41. Interview with Joel Griffiths, first published in Griffiths and Bryson, "Fluoride, 
Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb," Waste Not: The Reporter for Rational Resource 
Management, September 1997. 

42. File. Lt. Col. Cooper B. Rhodes, "Kille et al. (12 Separate Cases) vs. DuPont." 
February 13, 1946, Groves Papers, NARA. 

43. Groves to the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, Pentagon Building, 
Washington, DC, August 27, 1945. Groves Papers, NARA. 

292 NOTES TO CHAPTER 5 / PP. 75—80 

44. Gen. Groves to Sen. McMahon, February 18, 1946, Groves Papers, NARA. 45- Giordano 
interviews conducted in 1997 by Joel Griffiths and Clifford Hon-icker on a trip to the peach 
orchards. Clemente interview conducted by telephone and e-mail with the author in 2002. 

46. C. A. Taney Jr., Major, Corps of Engineers, to William C. Gotshalk, Sep- 

tember 24, 1945, cc. General Groves, in Groves file on New Jersey pollution, NARA, 
via Joel Griffiths. 

47. William Gotshalk to Maj. C. A. Taney, U.S. Engineer Office, New York, 

NY, August 28, 1945, Groves Papers, NARA. 

48. Maj. C. A. Taney to Gen. L. R. Groves, June I, 1945, Groves Papers, NARA. 
49- Thiessen, interviewed several times for this book, is a senior scientist with 

SENES Oak Ridge, Inc., Center for Risk Analysis. She is the author of Summary Review of 
Health Effects Associated with Hydrogen Fluoride and Related Compounds. U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency, December 1988. 5o. Lt. Col. Cooper B. Rhodes, 
"Memorandum for the Files. Subject: Peach Crop Cases, Kille et al. vs. DuPont, May 2, 1946, 
Cc: General Groves, General Nichols." Groves Papers, NARA, via Honicker and Griffiths. 

Chapter 6 

1. Time, April 24, 1944, p. 43. 

2. D. B. Ast, "A Plan to Determine the Practicability, Efficacy, and Safety of Fluorinating a 
Communal Water-Supply, Deficient in Fluorine, to Control Dental Caries," in W. J. Gies, 
ed., Fluorine in Dental Public Health (New York: New York Institute of Clinical Oral 
Pathology, 1945), p. 44. 

Ast's paper was delivered at a symposium of the New York Institute of Clinical Oral 
Pathology, New York City, October 30, 1944. According to the editors of Fluorine in 
Dental Public Health, "Dr. Ast's address (pp. 40-45) states the basis for, and the 
procedure in, the effort in the State of New York to determine, in a comprehensive and 
extended research, whether mass prevention (control) of dental caries (under the 
conditions stated in the preceding paragraph) is attainable without inducing toxic effects 
elsewhere in the body," p. 6 (emphasis in the original). See also F. McKay, Fluorine in 
Dental Public Health, p. 18, "Newburgh has become another "biological experiment 
station,' in which the rationale is applied directly to humans without previous laboratory 
experiments on animals." 

3. Memorandum "Summary of Conference with Colonel Nichols," dated New 
York City, July 23, 1943, notes, "5. Agreed to farming out Fl and HF toxicity 
experiments to Dr. Fairhall of the U.S. Public Health Service, Bethesda, Mr 
[left blank] through Dr. Wenzel — with experiments outlined by Drs Hodge 
and Ferry." Thus, the Manhattan Project is secretly directing the wartime 
PHS fluoride studies. Bomb-program medical planners, including Drs. 
Hodge, Friedell, and Warren, decided on August 31, 1943, that there was 
need for an "orientation conference on fluorine toxicity under auspices of 
the U.S. Public Health Service or OSRD." New York Operations Research 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 6 / PP. 8o-83 293 

and Medicine Division, Correspondence 1945-1952, Box 36, RG 326. The 
conference transcripts are in a file in the same box coded "G-H8." 

4. James Conant, Chairman NRDC, to Mr. J. J. Townsend, Public Health Service, 
Bethesda, MD, September 25, 1943; and Townsend to Conant, September 29, 1943, 
Documents 295 and 296, Records of Section S-i Executive Committee, RG 227.3.1. 

5. Transcript of Metabolism of Fluorides Conference, main session, Hotel 

Pennsylvania, New York, NY, January 6, 1944, Dr. Neal, p. 24, via Pete Eisler, 
USA Today. 

6. Ibid., Dr. Calvary, Chief of the Division of Pharmacology, FDA, p. 22. On 

animal tests, see Memo to Safety Section files, Joseph Faust, Assoc. Engineer 
(Safety) January 14, 1944, Oak Ridge Reading Room, ORO #1304. 

7. Transcript of "Metabolism of Fluorides" Conference, main session, Hotel 
Pennsylvania, New York, NY, January 6, 1944, via Pete Eisler, Ast comment at p. 27. 
(Interviewed by me in 1997, David Ast said that he could not remember having 
attended the New York conference.) 

8. Memorandum to The Area Engineer, Rochester Area, Rochester, NY. Subject: 
Funds for Incidental Expenses of Meeting on "Fluoride Metabolism," December 31, 
1943. John L. Ferry, Md 123 (729.3), File labeled G-118 (c), Az, Box 36, Accession 
#72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

9. "I think it would be a definite step forward if we forgot about definite limits and 
called them "control limits, — stated Helmuth Schrenk from the U.S. Bureau of 
Mines. Committee on Fluoride Metabolism, Round Table Discussion During 
Luncheon Period, continued in the Evening, January 6, 1944. All of these quotes 
come from the same lunchtime conference transcript. Transcript in file labeled 
G-118 (c), A2, Box 36, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

10. E. R. Schlesinger, D. E. Overton, and H. Chase, "Newburgh-Kingston Car 
ies-Fluorine Study II. Pediatric Aspects — Preliminary Report," Am. J. Public 
Health (June 1950), p. 725. 

u. "It is unknown," for example, complained Captain Peter P. Dale of Harold Hodge's 
Division of Pharmacology, in September 1945, "what the critical levels of T, F or 
~P' storage in man are [codes for uranium, fluoride, and plutonium], or whether they 
may have a potentially deleterious effect. Are such factors as the age, sex and the 
physical and chemical properties of the reagent important?" "Dental Research 
Program" Memo to Stafford L. Warren, September 24, 1945, from Capt. Peter P. 
Dale, Capt., DC AUS. 

12. D. E. Gardner, F. A. Smith, and H. C. Hodge (with D. E. Overton and R. Feltman) 
UR 200 Quarterly Technical Report (October 1, 1951— December 31, 1951), 
University of Rochester, "Fluoride Concentration of Placental Tissue," p. 4. "D. E. 
Overton of the Newburgh Fluorine Demonstration secured the samples from 
patients in that city." Published version in Science 115 (February 22, 1952), p. 208. 

13. Memo to Lt. Col. Hymer Friedell from Capt., Henry L. Barnett, February 8, 

1946, "Organizational Plan for Manhattan District Personnel Assigned 

294 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 6 / PP. 83-84 

to Japanese Report." Barnett had also seen the Trinity explosion, and been among the 
first to detect the fallout cloud. Lansing Lamont, Day of Trinity ( New York: Atheneum, 
1965), p. 244. An H. "C" Barnett is listed in charge of "special studies" at the University 
of Rochester, "Organization Chart of the Manhattan Department, University of 
Rochester," in Harold Hodge and Carl Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of 
Uranium Compounds, with a Section on the Pharmacology and 'Toxicology of Fluorine 
and Hydrogen Fluoride (New York: McGraw Hill, 1949), p. lo6i. Still another member 
of the Newburgh Technical Advisory Committee, a Columbia University 
biostatistician, John Fertig, may have been connected to the bomb program. Fertig did 
war work for the Office of Scientific Research and Development ( OSRD), the same 
federal bureaucracy that had sired the atomic bomb. American Men of Science, 9th and 
loth editions. 

14. For Howland's fluoride work: F. A. Smith, D. E. Gardner, and H. C. Hodge, " 

Investigations on the Metabolism of Fluoride," J. Dent. Research (October 1950), p. 
596: "We are indebted to Dr. J. Howland for taking the Rochester blood samples." (The 
study is a comparison of the fluoride levels in blood and urine in Newburgh and 
Rochester.) Also, Howland wrote "Studies on Human Exposure to Uranium 
Compounds," which investigated the Philadelphia Navy Yard blast, blaming "the 
fluoride ion" for injuries. Hodge and Voegtlin, eds., Pharmacology and Toxicology of 
Uranium Compounds, p. 1005: Howland had helped to assemble the atomic bombs on 
the Pacific island of Tinian, then surveyed the aftermath with his Rochester colleague, 
Capt. Barnett. 

15. Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments 

in the Cold War (New York: Random House, 1999). Capt. J. W. Howland was selected 
as Assistant Head of the Division of Biological and Health Physics Research of the 
Medical Section. "The Manhattan District Official History," Book 1, General, vol. 7, 
Medical Program, p. 5.17. 

16. Similarly, Ast could not recall a documented 1946 trip to New Jersey with 

Harold Hodge after the war, to study the poisoned children near the DuPont uranium 
hexafluoride plant. Author interview, 1997. 

17. "Fluoride Metabolism: Its significance in Water Fluoridation" J. Am. Dent. 

Assoc, vol. 52 (March 1956), p. 307. 

18. As medical director, Capt. Friedell had been well aware of the Manhattan 

Project's concern about fluorides. On January 20, 1943, for example, after visiting the 
War Research Laboratories at Columbia University, where a small-scale fluoride 
gaseous diffusion plant had already been built, he reported that "The primary potential 
sources of difficulty may be present in the handling of uranium compounds . . . and the 
coincident use of fluorides which are an integral part of the process." "Initiation of 
Medical Program for Project at Columbia University," January 20, 1943, Friedell to 
District Engineer. Friedell had also investigated fluoride poisoning in workers at the 
Harshaw Chemical Company in Cleveland. 

19. "Information that fluorides are not hazardous" would have been especially 

helpful to the bomb program's Legal Division, suggested Friedell. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 6 /PP. 84-87 295 

20. Author interview, December 3, 2002. 

21. Dean's epidemiological studies in the 19305 had given key scientific support 

to the idea that fluoride may play a role in dental health. As the PHS's key fluoride 
expert, Dean attended at least one Newburgh Advisory Committee meeting. 

22. G-10 file, Correspondence 1945-1952, New York Operations Research And 

Medicine Division, Box 38, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

23. Also in the G-to file is a letter from Rochester's Harold Hodge to Dr. Edward 

S. Rogers of the New York Department of Health, requesting more bone X-rays of 
Newburgh and Kingston children. "This would give us a good check on . . . 
whether the general development, especially the skeletal development, in the two 
cities is comparable," Hodge explained. Similar information was then being 
sought from workers in the wartime bomb factories, where bone X-rays were an 
early warning of fluoride poisoning. "The purpose of X-raying the Newburgh 
children was, to pick up any toxic effect which would manifest itself in bone 
changes." Conference with members of the Technical Advisory Committee on 
Fluorination of Water Supplies, June I, 1944, G-10 File. 

24. G-10 file, Correspondence 1945-1952, New York Operations Research And 

Medicine Division, Box 38, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

25. Dean's opposition "constituted a strong minority expression" Chairman Hodge 
noted. New York's leading dental official, David Ast, was furious at the Public 
Health Service expert's behavior that day. "It upset me a great deal," commented Ast. 
More than half a century later, Ast stills feels double-crossed by Dean. Ast had been 
planning the Newburgh experiment for more than a year. "I had conferred with him 
about the Newburgh study and he had encouraged me," Ast told me. Taped author 
interview, July 31, 2002. Ast was then "almost too." While he said that he knew 
Hodge had "something" to do with the Manhattan Project, he attributed Dean's 
flip-flop on public-health concerns to career ambition. Behind the scenes a furious 
scramble was taking place to be the first to add fluoride to the United States' water. 
Dean had been planning his own fluoridation experiment, Ast said. "He was going 
to do it in Michigan. He wanted to get in before I could." 

26. In an enthusiastic letter to Dr. William Davis of the Michigan Bureau of 

Public Health Dentistry, Dean makes no further mention of the worrisome 
potential "toxic effects" he had feared in Newburgh. "Let me know what you think 
of actually getting started on this proposition," he wrote to Davis on July 14, 1944. 
"I still think Grand Rapids would probably be the most desirable place for the 
fluorination." Money would be no problem, Dean suggested. "You would 
probably have little difficultly in obtaining this from a foundation, for instance the 
Kellogg Foundation," he wrote to Dr. Davis. Frank J. McClure, Water 
Fluoridation: The Search and the Victory (Bethesda, MD: U.S. NIDR, 1970), p. 

27. "Let no one think that any one of us would seriously consider exposing the 

population of a city of 165,000 [Grand Rapids' population in 19441 to a possible 
hazard of an unknown risk," the Chief Dental Officer for the PHS, 

296 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 6 J PP. 87-92 

John Knutson, told the Michigan State Dental Society in 1953. J. W. Knutson, "An 
Evaluation of the Grand Rapids Water Fluoridation Project," J. Michigan State Medical 
Sc, vol. 53 (1954), p. 1 1 . Cited in McClure, Water Fluorida-tion, p. n o . 

28. Multiple interviews with author. First published in Griffiths and Bryson, " 

Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb," Waste Not: The Reporter for Rational 
Resource Management (September 1997). 

29. Progress Report No. 1 of Contract No. W-74ol-eng-49 at the University of Rochester 
(report of the work for period May 1, 1943, to December 31, 1943, submitted by Andrew 
H. Dowdy, M.D., Director), Box 800018227, ACHRE, RG 220. 

30. "DuPont" File, New York Operations Research and Medicine Division, Correspondence 
1945-1952, Box 28-47, Box 36, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. For Priest's fluorine work at 
Columbia, see multiple papers in Industrial and Engineering Chem. (March 1947). 

31. P. Dale and H. B. McCauley, "Dental Conditions in Workers Chronically Exposed to 
Dilute and Anhydrous Hydrofluoric Acid," JADA, vol. 37, no. 2 ( August 1948). First 
presented at the twenty-fifth general meeting of the International Association of Dental 
Research, Chicago, June 21-22, 1947. 

32. See chapter 4, notes 72 and 73. 

33' The published study acknowledges the "assistance and suggestions of Drs Harold C. 
Hodge, ... in the preparation of this paper." The unpublished version is via Griffiths and 

34. Division of Safety and Hygiene, March 1, 1949, John H. Fluker, Superin- 
tendent, Division of Safety and Hygiene, Columbus, OH, In Re: Harshaw Chemical 
Company. Memo, via John Fedor. 

35. "Tabulation of results obtained from measurements of urine samples collected 

from workers at the Harshaw Chemical Company from 6 to 13 December 1 945." Report 
No. 5373' From Capt. B. J. Mears to Mr. F. A. Becker, Harshaw Chemical Company, Md 
319.1, General Essays, Lectures, Medical Report, Box 34, #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta 
FRC, RG 326. 

Chapter 7 

1. J. Marks, The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Con- 

trol (New York: Times Books, 1979). 

2. See Subproject 46 of John Marks collection at the National Security Archive. 
There is a second document in these files noting an interest in fluoride. A 
redacted November 29, 1949, letter discusses chemicals best suited to kill 
people. "One of these, sodium fluoacetate, when ingested in sufficient quan 
tities to cause death does not cause characteristic pathologic lesions nor 
does it increase the amount of fluorine in the body to such a degree that it 
can be detected by quantitative methods." See Box 4, file titled "Document 
Indexes Abstracts and Documents," Marks Collection, National Archive. 

3. "Those present at the meeting were Drs. Dowdy, Bale, Fink, McKann, Bas- 

sett, Hodge, and others representing the Rochester Group, Capt. Bryan 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 7 / PP. 92-93 297 

representing Col. Warren's office, and W. Langham representing the Santa Fe 
group." Folder 4, Box SoFolB230, ACHRE, RG 220. 

4. "Distribution and Excretion of Plutonium Administered Intravenously to 

Man," September 20, 1950, Division of Health and Biology, Folder 5, Box 
SoFolB23o, ACHRE, RG 220. 

5. Welsome, The Plutonium Files, p. 475. 

6. Details of those government experiments were declassified in 1994. On June 5, 1945, 
for example, a University of Rochester letter marked "Secret" details plans for 
"increasing the human metabolism studies." Ten additional patients are scheduled for 
"injection with T [code for uranium]," the letter states. "The preparation and analysis 
will be done by Dr. Hodge," notes the author, Dr. Andrew Dowdy, to Dr. W. F. Bale, 
of Rochester's "Special Problems Division." The letter is cc'd to Dr. Hodge. Dr. 
Andrew Dowdy to Dr. W. F. Bale, Special Problems Division. University of 
Rochester intramural correspondence, Box SoFolB23o, ACHRE, RG 220. 

The following year, 1946, Hodge was given direct responsibility for the 
experiments. L. H. Hemplemann and Wright H. Langham, "Detailed Plan of Product 
Part of Rochester Experiment." This document has a section called " General Plan of 
the Rochester Experiment" at p. 5, which details Hodge's involvement in the uranium 
experiments. Document marked 9000528, Box So9FolB23o, ACHRE, RG 220. 

7. The document, titled "Detailed Plan of Product [code for plutonium] Part of 
Rochester Experiment," includes a section on other human experiments. The 
medical director, Stafford Warren, had determined that "fifty subjects" were 
needed, ten for each substance, the document explained, "in order to 
establish, on a statistically significant number of subjects, the metabolic 
behavior of the hazardous material, product [code for plutonium], radium, 
postum, tuballoy [code for uranium] and lead." Under the subheading "Per 
sonnel and Distribution of Responsibility," a single name is listed for the 
uranium experiments: "Harold Hodge." Both patient accounts are from 
University of Rochester Monthly Progress Reports, for April 1947 (M-1968) 
and February 1947 (M-1954), Box S09FolB230, ACHRE, RG 220. 

An internal Rochester report on the experiments, "The Tolerance of Man for 
Hexavalent Uranium," noted that for the final subject, the alcoholic, the experiments 
had been successful, and that the "rise in urinary catalase and protein" from the man's 
liver suggested that, for uranium exposure, "tolerance had been reached." Samuel 
Basset, Albert Frenkel, Nathan Cedars, Helen Can Alstine, Christine Waterhouse, 
and Katherine Cusson, " The Tolerance of Man for Hexavalent Uranium," Folder 4, 
Box SoFolB23o, ACHRE, RG 220. 

8. Dr. Sweet wanted to study whether uranium could be used in "therapy of 
brain tumors." See Bob Bernard, interviewed by Newell Stannard in 1975, for 
Hodge link to uranium injections on Bill Sweet's patients at Massachusetts 
General Hospital. DOE Opennet #0026691. However, according to an inter 
nal report from the Union Carbide Nuclear company, the Atomic Energy 

298 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 7 / PP. 93 — 98 

Commission at Oak Ridge was "concerned with the long-term radiological effect that 
enriched uranium may have upon production employees who have inhaled dusts, mists 
and fumes of uranium." Accordingly, uranium injections were given to Massachusetts 
General Hospital patients following their tumor operations, in order to obtain "data on the 
distribution and excretion of uranium in these patients" and to "determine the permissible 
intravenous dose." S. R. Bernard and E. G. Struxness, A Study of the Distribution and 
Excretion of Uranium in Man, An Interim Report, ORNL-23o4, Box S09F01B294, 
ACHRE, RG 220. 

9. Morgan interview, January 6, 1995, by Gil Wittemore and Miriam Bowling, 

p. 109, ACHRE, RG 220. 

10. And as an early member of a group of scientists known as the American Conference of 
Government and Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), Hodge helped set standards for the 
"threshold" levels of chemicals and contaminants that millions of citizens breathe in 
factories and mills. 

11. Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, Final Report 
( Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1995). 

12. The biomedical work had continued during the cold war at the Rochester Atomic 
Energy Project (AEP), funded with millions of dollars from the federal Atomic Energy 

13. In the 1930s generally workers had contracted jaw cancer from licking their brushes as 
they painted radium onto watch dials. The poisoning was widely reported in the press and 
guided the Manhattan Project in its insistence on secrecy to prevent similar lawsuits or 
bad publicity. For example, in a letter to Charles Keller of the AEC Declassification 
Branch, L. F. Spalding of the Insurance Branch contemplates declassifying a medical 
document "Biochemical Studies Relating to the Effects of Radiation and Metals" by 
Samuel Schwartz. Spalding warns that "the contents thereof might arouse some claim 
consciousness on the part of former employees" and writes that "in the event latent 
disabilities due to the exposures reported in this document should result in publicity 
similar to that which arose out of the "radium dial" industry, the public relations section 
would be involved." When Guttman's team asked in 1995 for the files of the AEC 
Insurance Branch, he recalled, nobody at today's DOE had even heard of the Insurance 
Branch. Finding the old documents was like "asking my nephew for his grandfather's 
stamp collection," Guttman said. 

14. AEC Memorandum dated October 8,1947, to Advisory Board on Medicine and Biology, 
"Subject: MEDICAL POLICY," Document DOE #1019707, also marked RHTG 
Classified Docs, Box RHA 248-7 2 of 3, Building 2714.H, Vault. Via Peter Eisler, USA 

15. "Questions of General Policy," November 16, 1943, Md 319.1 Report Medical 

Ferry Box 25, Manhattan Engineer District Accession #4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, 
RG 326. See also Jack Hein interview with UK journalist Bob Woffinden, at timecode 
04:18:55 1997; "They also did extensive studies on 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 7 / PP. 98-99 299 

the people working in the atomic energy plants that might be exposed to fluoride." 

16. "Memorandum to Major J. L. Ferry, Manhattan District Oak Ridge, from 

Capt. B. J. Mears, July 5, 1945, subject, Visit to E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co." 
"Preparation of the IBM cards will be done by Dr. Evans [DuPont] after he has received 
his new equipment and the operators have been instructed by Mr. M. Wantman 
[Rochester].... The results of the statistical survey will be available only to the Medical 
Section of the Manhattan District," Md 701, Medical Attendance, Box 54, Accession 
#4nn 326-85-005, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 

17. Whether fluoride damaged kidneys, and whether fluoride in urine would therefore be a 
good measurement of occupational fluoride exposure, was key information sought by the 
bomb program. (Extra fluoride was stored in the bones of those injured patients, the 
government scientists found.) AEC No. UR-38, 1948, Quarterly Technical Report. Also 
cited in Kettering Lab unpublished report, "Annual Report of Observations on Fluorides. 
October 25, 1954." Kettering did similar experiments on patients with damaged kidneys, 
according to this report. 

18. Special Report 454, "Report on the Work of the Pharmacology Division," 

included in summarized subsection "The Toxicology of Special Materials," via Joel 

19. Roholm to Col. J. P. Hubbard, Public Health Section, Dagmarhus, July 20, 1945. 
Hubbard is probably an Allied occupation official. The letter is in the files of the 
Rockefeller Archive, Folder 2102, Box 310, RF RG2 713. Roholm explained that he 
wanted to recontact H. T. Dean at the National Institute of Health and Margaret C. Smith 
at the University of Arizona, who had discovered that fluoride causes dental mottling. 

20. Roholm to Frank J. McClure (U.S. National Institutes of Dental Research), June 13, 
1946. On Roholm's attitudes toward American health care: Danish newspaper clipping in 
Roholm family scrapbook, translated by daughter-in-law Karin Roholm. Personal 
meeting in New York, May 2001. 

21. "Fluorine interferes with the normal calcification of the teeth during the 

process of their formation," the U.S. Department of Agriculture claimed in 1 939, "so that 
affected teeth, in addition to being unusually discolored and ugly in appearance, are 
structurally weak and deteriorate early in life. For this reason, it is especially important 
that fluorine be avoided during the period of tooth formation, that is from birth to the age 
of 12 years . . . this dental disease is found when water containing even as little as 1 part 
per million is used." Yearbook of Agriculture (1939), p. 212. 

"Fluorides are general protoplasmic poisons," the American Medical Association 
warned in 1943, "probably because of their capacity to modify the metabolism of cells by 
changing the permeability of the cell membrane and by inhibiting certain enzyme 
systems.... The sources of fluorine intoxication are drinking water containing 1 part per 
million or more of fluorine. . .. Another source of fluorine intoxication is from the 
fluorides used in the 

300 NOTES TO CHAPTER 7 / PP. 99—102 

smelting of many metals, such as steel and aluminum, and in production of glass, enamel 
and brick." /AMA, vol. 123 (September 18, 1943), p. 150. Even the American Dental 
Association had editorialized in October 1944, "our knowledge of the subject certainly 
does not warrant the introduction of fluorine in community water supplies," the 
association's magazine stated, " we do know that the use of the drinking water 
containing as little as 1.2 to 3. parts per million of fluorine will cause such 
developmental disturbances in bones as osteosclerosis, spondylosis and osteopetrosis, as 
well as goiter." ( Today, the EPA permits 4 parts per million of fluoride in water, a 
standard vigorously resisted by some EPA scientists, including the former senior 
toxicologist of the Office of Drinking Water, Dr. William Marcus.) Marcus interview 
with author. 

22. K. Roholm, Rejsebreve Indtryk Fra USA (Efteraar 1945); Ugeskrift For Laeger, 

vol. I08 (1946), pp. 234-243. 

23. Ibid. Before the war, Roholm recalled, "it was discovered that the concen- 

tration of fluoride; 1 milligram of fluoride per 1 liter drinking water; causes mottled 
teeth amongst those who drink the water, while the permanent teeth calcify, i.e., during 
infancy. The enamel become indistinct, chalklike and sometimes dark colored and 
fragile. The disease has since been discovered throughout the entire world and continues 
to be a serious problem of sanitary reasons, which makes it necessary to change the 
water supply." 

24. Ibid., pp. 234-243. 

25. In early 2001 Roholm's daughter-in-law, Karin, showed me a scrapbook of 

news stories collected by a family friend during his lifetime. She translated them for me 
over coffee at the New York YMCA at West Sixty-third Street. In his address Roholm 
made a single reference to fluoride. "In recent years, we have learned that a small 
quantity of the element fluoride in the drinking water significantly seems to protect 
against caries," he said. Ugeskrift For Laeger, vol. no (1948), pp. 221-226. 

Chapter 8 

1. Jamie Lincoln Kitman, "The Secret History of Lead," Part 1, The Nation ( 

March 20, 2000), in which a 1985 EPA study is cited for heart-disease deaths. Kitman 
wrote, "According to a 1988 report to Congress on childhood lead poisoning in America 
by the government's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, one can 
estimate that the blood-lead levels of up to 2 million children were reduced every year to 
below toxic levels between 1970 and 1987 as leaded gasoline use was reduced. From 
that report and elsewhere, one can conservatively estimate that a total of about 68 
million young children had toxic exposures to lead from gasoline from 1927 to 1987." 

2. Humor and ancestry; Interview with Edward Largent Jr. Arrogance: inter- 

view with Dr. Albert Burgstahler. 

3. Kehoe testimony at Martin trial, p. 965. 

4. For example, he was an associate editor of the American Medical Associa- 

tion's Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Occupational Medicine. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / P. 102 301 

From 1925 to 1958 Kehoe was the medical director of the Ethyl Corporation, 
the partnership between Standard and General Motors that distributed the 
DuPont-manufactured antiknock gasoline additive known as tetra ethyl lead 
(TEL). In 1966 he told Congress that he "had been looking for 30 years for evi 
dence of bad effects from leaded gasoline in the general population and had 
found none." Kitman, "The Secret History of Lead." Kehoe's work would take 
him to Germany immediately after World War II, from which he sent home 
photographs of the Nazi death camps. See also diary, RAK Collection. 

The German industrial conglomerate I. G. Farben had operated the Auschwitz camp 
with Hitler's SS. Before the war Farben had partnered in Germany and the United States 
with Standard Oil. Shortly before European hostilities broke out, Ethyl Corporation 
transferred the technology for making TEL to its German partner, greatly aiding the Nazi 
war effort. According to Farben official August von Knieriem at the Nuremberg war 
crimes trial, "Without tetraethyl lead the present method of warfare would have been 
impossible. The fact that since the beginning of the war we could produce tetraethyl lead is 
entirely due to the circumstance that shortly before, the Americans presented us with the 
production plans, complete with their know how." J. Borkin, The Crime and Punishment 
of I. G. Farben (New York: The Free Press, 1978), p. 78. 

On April 17, 1952, Kehoe wrote to Seward Miller — medical director of the Division of 
Industrial Hygiene, Public Health Service — on behalf of nine corporations then 
sponsoring his fluoride research, to request that the PHS perform some fluoride safety 
studies on animals. The industry groups, Kehoe noted, "are concerned mainly with the 
results of exposure to fluorides in various occupations." These industries included "The 
Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company, Aluminum Company of America, Reynolds 
Metals Company, Universal Oil Products Company, American Petroleum Institute, Kaiser 
Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Tennessee Valley Authority, The Harshaw 
Chemical Company, [and] Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Corporation." RAK 

A great number of claims were settled out of court. The following is a partial listing of 
legal actions against U.S. corporations following the war, and during the early cold war, in 
which fluoride was suspected as a poison. These data are culled from press accounts and 
this author's research. See also E. J. Largent, "Fluorosis — The Health Aspects of Fluorine 
Compounds," for the difficulty of comprehensively tracking the frequency and number of 
fluoride lawsuits. Also, M. J. Prival and F. Fisher, "Fluorides in the Air," Environment, vol. 
15, no. 3 (April 1973), pp. 25-32. "The number of out of court settlements of claims of 
fluoride damage to vegetation is impossible to determine, although it certainly exceeds the 
number of court-ordered payments." 

1946. The "Peach Crop Cases" by New Jersey farmers in Gloucester and Salem 
County, claiming $430,000 against DuPont and the U.S. government. 

302 NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / P. 102 

1946. Suit "exceeding half a million dollars" mounted against the Pennsylvania Salt 
Company, Sun Oil, and the General Chemical Company by some 41 farmers near the town 
of Delran, New Jersey, on the Delaware River. Pennsylvania Salt was being sued along 
with Sun Oil and General Chemical for more than a half-million dollars by as many as 
forty-one different farmers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The farmers claimed that they 
had been poisoned by fluoride — their crops and farm animals killed. Downwind of the 
Pennsylvania Salt Company's plant in Cornwall Heights, built by the government during 
the war, lay a half-mile-square zone just across the Delaware River, "where all trees have 
been killed." Another of the company's fluoride plants in Easton, Pennsylvania, "revealed 
an almost identical picture of damage." John H. Claypool to Edward Largent, 10/19/45; 
"Recently the first actions in bringing suit have been taken in behalf of 26, out of an 
original 41, peach growers." Also Largent to R. W. Champion, Harshaw Chemical, 
4/25/1946, File 13, Box 32, RAK Collection. 

• Immediately postwar. A Philadelphia gun club filed suit against the nearby Pennsylvania 
Salt Company. According to Philip Sadtler: "The Plant had damaged the Philadelphia gun 
club which was next door — that was a relatively simple case. The gun club won because of 
my testimony, and all I had done was gather some of the vegetation and measured the 
fluorine." Taped author interview, March 23, 1993. 

• 1948. Claims filed by a group of horticulturist farmers against phosphate fertilizer 
manufacturers in Bradenton, Florida, on the Gulf Coast, alleging agricultural damage. 
"They won a large settlement," according to lead investigator Philip Sadtler. "The 
vegetation showed [damage] around the edges. One farmer named the (claprood?) family 
grew a large number of gladioli which were shipped all over the United States. For at least 
two years they were ruined by the phosphate roasting. Therefore, I was asked to go down to 
Bradenton to investigate the problem. I took samples and came home and analyzed them. 
They were no different from [what Sadtler had found in the fluorine poisoning from 
industry in] New Jersey. They won a large settlement. It took several years but they got 
repaid for what they had lost." 

• October 1948. Donora, Pennsylvania. Four and half million dollars in legal claims 
against U.S. Steel following some two dozen fatalities and thousand of injuries, blamed 
by one investigator on fluoride. The legal action did not focus on fluoride. 

•1949. Lawsuits filed against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) alleging fluoride 
pollution. For example, "In connection with the plaintiffs living in the Columbia area who 
should be examined for possible fluorosis," Edward Largent to Joseph C. Swidler, 
General Counsel, TVA, Knoxville, Tennessee. Also, Kettering's William Ashe performed 
a pilot study in 1950 of conditions at TVA's phosphate fertilizer plant at the Wilson Dam. 
While most of the men had worked in the plant "a relatively short time 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / P. 102 303 

(a few months to 7 years; ay. 2.6 years)," X-ray and urine analysis of the men found 
widespread bone fluorosis, urine values as high as 27.28 mgs of fluoride per liter, 
and concluded "I) There was a fluoride problem in the fertilizer plants at Wilson 
Dam 2) Some workmen are absorbing abnormal amounts of fluoride in quantities 
sufficient to produce fluorosis of the bone." Ashe to Dr E. L. Bishop, Director of 
Health TV A, File 14, Box 15, RAK Collection. 

• 1950 Alcoa was fined for dumping fluorides into the Columbia River. Airborne 
fluorides heavily contaminated the grass and animal forage "which resulted in injury 
and death to cattle" and a claim for $200,000 compensation, according to newspaper 
accounts. "Oregon Rancher asks $200,000 of Aluminum Company," Seattle Times, 
December 16, 1952. Cited in G. L. Waldbott et al, Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma, 
p. 296. Alcoa had dumped between 1,000 and 7,000 pounds of fluorides per month 
into the Columbia before 1950, according to National Fluoridation News 
( March-April, 1967), p. 3. 

• 1950. Mr. and Mrs. Julius Lampert won suit against Reynolds' Troutdale, Oregon, 
plant for fluoride damage to gladiolus crops. Cited in Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p. 
298, "Damages for Crop Burns," Lewiston (ID) Morning Tribune, February 6, 

• Alcoa had compensated 141 farmers and cattle raisers in Blount County, Tennessee, 
prior to January 1, 1953, when another suit charged that fluoride fumes had damaged 
farmlands and injured cattle. Cited in Waldbott, Fluoride, p. 298, "Jury Decides 
Alcoa Liability Ended in 1955," Knoxville (Tenn.) Journal, July 30, 1955. Cited in 
Waldbott et al, Fluoridation, p. 298, "Alcoa Sued for Nearly $3 Million," Knoxville 
(TN) Journal, October 29, 1970. 

• Also in Tennessee, by 1953 Monsanto was "faced with a number of claims for 
personal and property damage which total a considerable amount" including "claims 
for personal injury due to fluoride-containing effluents released from the stacks of the 
plant at Columbia owned by Monsanto." ( "Last week when Mr. Wheeler was in 
Cincinnati he talked briefly with Dr. Heyroth about Monsanto's fluoride problems. As 
you know, Monsanto is faced with a number of claims for personal and property 
damage which total a considerable amount. These cases have accumulated over quite a 
period and have been pending for three or four years. It now appears that they may 
come to trial this fall." R. Emmet Kelly, M.D., Monsanto's medical director, to Robert 
Kehoe, July 7, 1953, File 26, Box 38, RAK Collection. Also: "Two couples, a man and 
a wife in each case, have filed claims for personal injury due to 
fluoride-containing effluents released from the stacks of the plant at Columbia owned 
by Monsanto .. . Symptoms described by the plaintiffs in part fit the description of 
acute fluoride poisoning, in part fit the description of chronic fluoride poisoning, 
and in part they appear so bizarre as to fit neither." Memorandum of meeting held 
August 19, 1953 between Edward Largent, Dr. 

304 NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / P. 102 

Francis Heyroth, Mr. John Jewell. Monsanto Chemical Company, and their attorney, 
Mr. Lon McFarland, August 20,1953, File 26, Box 38, RAK Collection. 
In Utah, byl957, U.S. Steel had settled 88o damage claims totaling $4,450, 234 
with farmers in Utah County. An additional 305 claims for a further $25,000,000 
were filed against the company. D. A. Greenwood, "Background for Studies in Utah 
County." Unpublished paper given at the 1957 Kettering Fluoride Symposium, File 17, Box 
42, RAK Collection. Another figure states that the legal claims against U.S. Steel in Utah 
were for $30 million. C. Butler, Discussion in: Proceedings: Nat'l. Conf. on Air 
Pollution, Nov. 18-2o, 1958 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office), p. 268. Also, 
Prival and Fisher: "U.S. Steel paid $4 million to cattle ranchers around its steel mill near 
Provo, Utah, before spending $9 million on pollution control devices," citing Chemical and 
Engineering, vol. 65, no. 4, p. 66, February 24, 1958, and W. T. Purvance, Chem. Eng. 
Prog., vol. 55, no. 7 (July 1959), p. 49, . This writer did not delve into the legal papers 
surrounding these cases. However, a clue as to their ultimate fate may be found in an essay by 
Keith E. Taylor Esq., senior partner, Parsons, Behle, and Latimer, Salt Lake City. He writes in 
1982 of a proceeding "of nearly 25 years ago [in which] farmers and ranchers, approximately 
300 strong, sought damages in a Federal Court for claimed injury to thousands of cattle and 
sheep and to numerous types of vegetation from fluorides emitted from an industrial facility." 
According to Taylor, Utah State scientists examined a dairy cow, Ms. Penelope, "ear tag No. 
G-571023," that plaintiffs claimed had been poisoned by fluoride; these scientists then 
"testified on behalf of the defendant, [and] came up with opposite conclusions. They found no 
evidence of fluorosis. The cause of her poor health was a wire that she had ingested, which 
had punctured her heart. . . . Except for that research ... the result would probably have been 
different. Cows like Penelope would have continued to be diagnosed as dying of fluorosis. 
The farmers would not have had a compelling reason to clean the nails and wire from cattle 
feed, and to correct the various other problems that were contributing culprits. In the long run 
even the farmers would have been the losers." K. E. Taylor " Research Needs — A Lawyer's 
View" in J. L. Shupe, H. B. Peterson, and N. C. Leone, eds., Fluorides: Effects on 
Vegetation, Animals, and Humans (Salt Lake City, UT: Paragon Press, 1983), p. 359. 8. 
At a gathering of industry scientists and profluoride dental researchers in 1983, Seamans 
explained how wartime production had propelled a wave of fluoride pollution lawsuits against 
industry. "After the German bombing of Coventry had knocked out the English aluminum 
production," Sea-mans began, "President Roosevelt announced that America would build 
50,000 planes. This was an unbelievable number and required a tremendous amount of 
aluminum, far more than existing capacity could produce. Accordingly, through a government 
agency known as the Defense Plant 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / P. 103 305 

Corporation, aluminum smelters were built wherever the needed electricity could be 
obtained . . . one DPC plant was built in the San Joaquin Valley of California.... "]here 
were, of course, no controls of any kind on this plant. As you can expect, there was a great 
consternation in the San Joaquin Val-ley. Vigilante committees were formed, and an 
injunction suit was filed. In August 1943, as a young lawyer for Alcoa I was sent out there 
to find out what the problem was all about.... Fortunately, Dr. Francis C. Frary, who was 
then director of research at Alcoa, had seen Roholm's book describing some of the 
consequences of cryolite mining in Greenland and this led him to wonder whether 
fluorides were the culprit ... we all finally became convinced that there had been undue 
exposure to fluorides. Because we had the injunction suit and other claims to handle, as 
soon as possible we persuaded the Defense Plant Corporation to close the San Joaquin 
Plant. Thereafter, over a period of years we were able to settle all the cases, and thus the 
"Riverbank, California' nightmare came to an end. After this experience however, 
knowledge quickly spread and soon we had claims and lawsuits around aluminum 
smelters from coast to coast. These required prodigious effort and great expenditures of 
time and money to settle. During the course of events, many significant and extended 
lawsuits were tried. Some of the more crucial were the Fraser case involving the 
Vancouver, Washington, plant and the Hitch case involving the Alcoa, Tennessee, Plant." 
Seamans continued, " There was very little solid information on the subject about what 
harm fluorides could do, what harm they did not do and what the tolerance levels were for 
people." Accordingly, "research was encouraged and supported at the University of 
Wisconsin, Utah State, Stanford Research Institute, University of Tennessee, Kettering 
Institute, the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant research and other noted scientific 
centers." F. L. Seamans, " Historical, Economic and Legal aspects of Fluoride," in Shupe 
et al., eds., Fluorides, p. 5. 

9. Frank Seamans to attorney Theodore C. Waters, August 30,1956. "You will 

recall the occasion of our meeting together in Washington with a group of lawyers who 
have clients interested in the fluoride problem, at which time we were discussing the U.S. 
Public Health Service. The group, which in the past has consisted of representatives of 
Aluminum Company of Canada, Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation, U.S. Steel, 
Kaiser Aluminum and Steel, Tennessee Corporation and subsidiaries, Monsanto 
Chemical, Victor Chemical, Reynolds Metals Company, T.V.A. and Alcoa has had 
some discussions with Dr. Kehoe relative to some research and regarding the effect of 
fluorides on human beings." File 5, Box 76, RAK Collection. 

10. On the relationship of Medical Advisory Committee to the Fluorine Lawyers, 
Seamans to Medical Advisory Committee, April 16, 1957: "The legal 
representatives of the several companies interested in the Kettering Research 
project have agreed that it would be advantageous if the principal liaison 
with Kettering were undertaken by persons of competent technical back 
ground . . . [to] conduct the necessary liaison between the Kettering Insti- 

306 NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / PP. 103—105 

tute and the lawyers' group by a system of regularly scheduled visitations to Kettering and 
regular reports to the lawyer's group." File 17, Box 42, RAK Collection, n. Memorandum on 
the Meeting of the Pittsburgh Section of the Industrial Hygiene Association, April 30, 1946, 
marked "Confidential." 

12. During the key wartime Manhattan Project-sponsored "Conference on 
Fluoride Metabolism" at New York's Hotel Pennsylvania on January 6, 1944, 
Largent was a member of an inner-sanctum group of experts — along with 
Harold Hodge from the University of Rochester — that had decided how 
much fluoride U.S. workers could be "safely" exposed to inside the giant 
wartime atomic-bomb factories. 

13. The phrase is from Francis McClure of the National Institutes of Dental Research. 
Largent's human experiments, McClure said, "provided much basic information not only 
for appraisal of industrial fluoride hazards but for resolution of a public health hazard 
which might be associated with use of fluoride drinking waters." F. J. McClure, 
Fluoridation (N1H publication, 1970 ), p . 2 . 

14. From the 1933 level of 1.43 mg F/Kg, raised in 1944 to 7 mg F/Kg. K. Roholm, 
Rejsebreve Indtryk Fra USA (Efteraar, 1945); Ugeskrift For Laeger, vol. lo8 (1 946), pp. 

15. Mellon guests were told that fluoride air concentrations of up to 4 parts per million had 
been found inside Alcoa plants, according to Dr. Lester Craw-ley of Alcoa. 
Memorandum on the Meeting of the Pittsburgh Section of the Industrial Hygiene 
Association, April 30, 1946. Stamped "Confidential." File 13, Box 38, RAK Collection. 

16. See note 7 above. Also, E. J. Largent, Fluorosis: The Health Aspects of Fluorine 
Compounds (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1961), p. 124. 

17. "We have on file in our laboratory evidence of bone changes in employees in 
manufacturing operations where there are known atmospheric contaminations from 
fluorides," Largent noted. Attending the Mellon conference might help industry confront 
such threats, Largent added. The aluminum industry, in particular, had long ago seen the 
danger of workers' lawsuits for fluoride exposure and had taken preemptive action. "It 
was in anticipation of such an eventuality that Aluminum Company of America set out 
several years ago to obtain all possible data with which to meet such a situation," Largent 
told the Harshaw Chemical Company. Edward Largent to R. W. Champion, assistant 
sales manager, Harshaw Chemical Company, April 25, 1946, File 13, Box 38, RAK 

18.Bovard announced at the Pittsburgh conference that there was "no evidence 
to prove that there was any relation between ankylosing spondylitis [the fus 
ing of spinal vertebra] and the deposition of fluorides in the osseous tissue," 
Largent reported. Memorandum on the Meeting of the Pittsburgh Section of 
the Industrial Hygiene Association, April 30, 1946. Stamped "Confidential." 
RAK Collection Box 38 File 13. Bovard would regularly consult for the Ket- 
tering Laboratory and industry during the cold war, helping the TV A, for 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / PP. 105—106 307 

example, in preparing its 1953 report, "Study of Fluoride Hazards — Final 
Report — Project Authorization 408." 

19. Edward Largent to Dr. S. C. Ogburn Jr., manager, Research and Develop- 

ment Department, Pennsylvania Salt Company, May 8, 1946, File 13, Box 38, RAK 

20. Memorandum on the meeting of the Pittsburgh Section of the Industrial 

Hygiene Association, April 30, 1946. Stamped "Confidential," File 13, Box 38, RAK 

21. "Suggestions have been made both by Dr. Frary and by some of the du Pont 

group, including their medical director . . . that it might be advisable for representatives 
of du Pont, Aluminum Company, and Pennsylvania Salt to get together and to discuss 
carefully the whole problem." Robert Kehoe to S. C. Ogburn Jr., Pennsylvania Salt 
Company, May 25, 1946, File 13, Box 38, RAK Collection. 

22. Joel Griffiths interview. 

23. George Blakstone said that Maurice and Elmo had both participated in the lead 
experiments. He recalled that Maurice "would go in a chamber and inhale." Gentry 
Blackstone, who inhaled hydrogen fluoride gas, was also " drinking something, I think," 
according to George. 

24. "Summary of Investigations of the Metabolism of Fluorides by Man and Dogs, 

" Nov. 1, 1950, Unpublished Reports, vol. 24 b, RAK Collection. 

25. Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Poli- 

tics of Industrial Pollution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), p. no. 

26. E. K. Largent, P. G. Bovard, and F. F. Heyroth, "Roetgenographic Changes 

and Urinary Fluoride Excretion among Workmen Engaged in the Manufacture of 
Inorganic Fluorides," Amer. J. Roentgenol, vol. 65 (1951), p. 42. 

27. The dueling European and American medical theories had an odd trans- 

atlantic symmetry. Both scientists had studied workers handling cryolite, mined in the 
Danish colony of Greenland. Most of Europe's cryolite arrived via Roholm's hometown 
port of Copenhagen, while an old Philadelphia Quaker firm, the Pennsylvania Salt 
Manufacturing Company, whose workers Largent studied, had been granted sole rights 
to sell Danish cryolite in the U. S. During World War II, when the Nazis occupied 
Denmark, Greenland was governed by the Danish minister in Washington and a 
committee of five advisers, one of whom was Leonard T. Beale, the President of 
Pennsylvania Salt. R. K. Leavitt, Prologue to Tomorrow: A History of the First Hundred 
Years in the Life of the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company (The Pennsylvania 
Salt Company, 1950), chapter on fluorine, "Bad Actor turns Patriot," p. 78. 

28. From 1939 to 1944, for example, industrial consumption of the most volu- 

minous fluoride mineral, fluorspar, had more than doubled. It rose from 176,000 tons of 
fluorspar in 1939 to 410,000 tons in 1944. See Largent, Table 4, "The Occurrence and 
Use of Inorganic Fluorides." Paper given at 1953 Fluoride Symposium, in Unpublished 
Reports 32b, RAK Collection. 

308 NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / PP. 106—109 

29. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1975 DHEW/NIOSH- 

76-103. Cited in "Summary Review of Health Effects" EPA/600/8-89/oo2F, December 
1988, pp. 3-5. 

30. Largent spent a career doubting Roholm. Roholm's findings were not " authenticated" 
and "cannot be generally accepted," Largent insisted. The Dane had failed to show "a 
causal relationship" between fluoride and injury, he told a Kettering roundtable of 
industry doctors. 1957 Kettering Fluoride Symposium, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

31. H. C. Hodge and F. A. Smith, Fluorine Chemistry, vol. IV, p.385. Also, " Largent's 
research is often quoted as evidence that bone changes, of the kind encountered in high 
fluoride areas and in industry, are never associated with harm elsewhere in the human 
organism and therefore have no significance." G. L. Waldbott, A Struggle with Titans 
(New York: Carlton Press, 1965), p. 289. 

32. "When one finds, in cases of severe fluorosis of the bone, limitation of motion 

of the elbow and the X-ray reveals exostoses of unusual density about the elbow, one is 
probably entirely justified in concluding that the deformity and dysfunction are due to 
fluorosis, and that disability exists in association with and because of this disease, 
whether or not the man is aware of it, and whether or not he continues to do his job at 
the plant." Aluminum Company of America, Niagara Falls Works Health Survey, File 
4, Box 82, RAK Collection. 

33. "An exostoses (a bony outgrowth from the surface of the bone) on one of the 

bones of the right forearm and some calcification of the ligaments of the lower vertebrae 
were noted" in Ira Templeton's X-rays, according to Dr Smyth. He also found "In 
several instances bony outgrowths which seemed very much like the bone changes seen 
by Roholm in the monograph, 'Fluorine Intoxication,'" Largent told the Pennsylvania 
Salt Company. "On the basis of the data and the conclusions of that book alone, one 
would accept the presence of these outgrowths as evidence of the existence of fluorine 
intoxication. The conclusions of Dr. Smyth, who used the expression 'fluorine 
intoxication,' in the interpretation of his findings, would seem to follow this thesis," 
Largent added. Edward Largent, "Report to the Pennsylvania Salt Company," May 8, 
1948, File 13, Box 38, RAK Collection. 

34. Bovard to Kehoe, February 28, 1946. Also, Bovard X-ray interpretation, Feb- 

ruary 19, 1946, File 13, Box 38, RAK Collection. 

35. J. Russell Davey, M.D., to Pennsylvania Salt Co., In Re: Ira Templeton. 

January 31, 1947, File 13, Box 38, RAK Collection. 

36. S. C. Ogburn Jr., manager, Research and Development Department, Penn- 

sylvania Salt Company, to Kehoe, February lo, 1947, File 13, Box 38, RAK 

37. Kehoe to S. C. Ogburn Jr., February 12, 1947, File 13, Box 38, RAK Collection. 

38. "Final Report of the Results of Investigations Relating to Fluoride Metabo- 

lism Conducted Under the Sponsorship of the Pennsylvania Salt Company." 
Unpublished Reports vol. 24-a, Kettering Laboratory, p. 13, RAK Collection. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / PP. 109-112 309 

39. Largent was familiar with Roholm's research, of course, and knew about the subtle 
effects of fluoride poisoning. During the war, for example, Lar-gent told a 1943 
industry conference at the Mellon Institute that "it seems probable that exposure to 
fluoride dusts may be capable of lowering the efficiency and well-being of 
workmen without inducing any very specific and dramatic symptoms." Proceedings 
of the Eighth Annual Meeting of Industrial Hygiene Foundation of America, Inc., 
November 10-11, 1943, p. 32. 


E. J. Largent, P. G. Bovard, and F. F. Heyroth, "Roetgenographic Changes 

and Urinary Fluoride Excretion among Workmen Engaged in the Manufacture of 

Inorganic Fluorides," Am. J. Roentgenol., vol. 65 (1951), p. 42. See 


chapter 6 for the lanuary 1944 fluoride conference held at the Hotel 
Pennsylvania in New York. 
42. The Kettering Laboratory's "investigation of the metabolism of fluorides in 
the human body" was funded in 1953 by Alcoa, Reynolds, Kaiser, Harshaw 
Chemical, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, Universal Oil Products, 
the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the American Petroleum Institute. 
Kehoe to Seward E. Miller Medical Director, Division of Industrial Hygiene, 

&W%ftfarffi^, ei TOi(^Sol5wrrr^IrMralfi^Mrine and Hvdroaen 43. 

Fluoride," The Pharmacology and Toxicology of Uranium Compounds (New York: 

McGraw Hill, 1949), p. 1021. (Stokinger was a former Kettering scientist who went 

to Rochester during the war. Largent called him Herb). Also, in 1909 Ronzani had 

done HF inhalation studies on animals. He found no harm at 3 ppm, during a 

month's exposure, but was unable to report the same at 5 and 7.5 ppm. The 

Kettering Laboratory had abstracted Ronzani in their Kettering Abstracts series. 
. Among tne attendees were the medical directors of DuPont, Alcoa, and 44 

TVA. Alcoa's attorney, Frank Seamans, from the Pittsburgh firm of Smith, 
Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rodewald, and Eckert, was also in attendance. File 13, 
Box 38, RAK Collection. 
Largent had suggested in 1943 that 1.5-2.00 mg/liter of fluoride in urine 

45. might be associated with deposition in worker's bones. "Proceedings of the 
Eighth Annual Meeting of Industrial Hygiene Foundation of America, Inc," 
November 10-11, 1943, p. 32. 

"If there were any changes in the bone as a consequence of 3 ppm it was 

46. beneficial deposition of fluoride, not harmful," he told writer Joel Griffiths. 
Griffiths interview. 

Largent, "Absorption and Elimination of Fluorides by Man," Kettering Fluoride 


Symposium 1953, p. 92. Also, Largent reported in the unpublished "Industrial 
Health Surveys in Plants Processing Inorganic Fluorides," that in "a plant 
dealing with hydrogen fluoride ... One man, who had an average urinary 
fluoride concentration of 9 mg. per liter, gave evidence of a moderate increase 
in radiopacity." He continued, "If all threats of medico-legal problems are to be 
avoided it seems probable that average urinary fluoride levels must be kept 
below 10 mg. per liter." Fluoride Symposium, 11.1, RAK Collection. 

310 NOTES TO CHAPTER 8 / PP. 112-113 

8. See 2001 ACGIH TLV, data summary for HF, "based on results of controlled 4 
inhalation studies in human volunteers" (Largent cited). ACGIH also cite E. Ronzani, 
"Influence of the Inhalation of Irritant Industrial Gases on the Resistance of the Organism 
to Infectious Disease. Experimental Investigations. II. Hydrofluoric Acid Gas, Ammonia, 
Hydrochloric Acid Gas," Arch. Hyg., vol. 70 (1909), pp. 217-269. Ronzani was 
prompted to his studies because "disputes about the duties of factory and workshop 
owners towards their neighbors are brought to the court in rising frequency." He therefore 
sought a "no effect" level to help resolution of such disputes. He studied animals at 
various concentrations of HF, including 7.5 ppm and 5.0 ppm, but was forced to go to 3 
ppm to find a no-effect level over 31 days — little comfort surely almost a century later for 
workers breathing HF today at 3 ppm for all of a working life. 

In the NIOSH "Criteria Document for a Recommended Standard: Occupational 
Exposure to Hydrogen Fluoride," Publication 76-143, it is noted that Elkins had found 
"workers in the etching process had nosebleeds as did welders exposed to O.4-0.7 mg F/cu 
m who were excreting 2-6 mg F/liter of urine . .. other workers exposed to 0.1-0.35 mg 
F/cu m and excreting, on the average, 4. 5 mg F/liter reportedly experienced sinus trouble. 
The ACGIH suggested that the urinary excretion values reported by Elkins seemed 
"inconsistently high' relative to airborne HF levels, and that dietary F was suggested as a 
possible factor." Citation, H. B. Elkins, The Chemistry of Industrial Toxicology, 
2nd ed. (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1959), pp. 71-73. 

The ramifications of the ACGIH reliance on Largent and Ronzani can 
perhaps be seen in the U.S. standard for HF occupational exposure of 2.5 mg 
HF/cu m, compared to other countries (cited in NIOSH, above document, 
1976): The (former) Soviet Union, 0.5 mg HF/cu m, Hungary and Poland o.5 
mg HF/cu m, (the former) East Germany and Czechoslovakia,! mg HF/ cu m, 
and Bulgaria 1 mg HF/cu m. 
In that second interview, Largent became aware that the interviewer Joel 

Griffiths might not view his experimental work favorably. The verbatim 
exchange continued as follows: 49. 

EL: I never did develop osteofluorosis. 

JG: Excuse me? 

EL: I never developed personally any aspect of osteofluorosis — you just got through 

saying I developed osteofluorosis. 
JG: Because I think that is what you told me the last time we talked. 
EL: No — I would have talked about skeletal deposition, and that is not osteo-fluorosis. 
JG: Well, skeletal deposition, right — that led to some difficulties with your knees. 
EL: Not in the slightest. 
JG: Well, this doesn't seem to jibe with what you told me the first time. EL: That's not 

true — I was developing more like osteoporosis — I have arthritic difficulties in my 

extremities serious enough that the right knee was 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 / PP. 113-114 311 

replaced with a prosthesis but that was more on the side toward osteoporosis than 

fluorosis — I didn't get enough to do me any good, I can tell you that. [Osteosclerosis, 

thickening of the bone, is a sign of a small amount of additional fluoride exposure; 

osteoporosis is an indication of massive fluoride exposure, Roholm and others 

JG: Because you said to me quite distinctly the first time that it was osteo-fluorosis. 
EL: No. 

JG: And that fluoride can cause this condition. 
EL: No. 

JG: And that as far as you were concerned that was what it was. 
EL: No. 
JG: And that you believed it could have possibly come from the drinking water in the 

high school you attended in Fort Ames, Iowa, back in nine-teen-whatever-it-was. 
EL: Yeah. 
JG: And also that the fluoride that you absorbed in your experiments might possibly 

have been a contributing factor. 
EL: Factor — what factor? 
JG: To the osteofluorosis. 
EL: I didn't have osteofluorosis — at any time. 
JG: I see, because the first time I'm certain that you said you did. 
EL: No — I don't think that I did. 
JG: In other words, you're not saying it now. 
EL: I don't know what I said then, but if I said it then I was wrong. ... If you say I 

developed osteofluorosis I will challenge that ... I didn't get enough fluoride to do 

me any good. 
JG: Well, let me see if I can find the tape and see I'll see if I misheard you. EL: You may 
not have misheard me, but you may be able to correct me if I misspoke. 

50. Fluoride appears to carry aluminum over the blood-brain barrier; the alu-minofluoride 
complexes then damage the brain structure. See esp. J. A. Varner, K. F. Jensen, W. 
Horvath, and R. L. Isaacson, "Chronic Administration of Aluminum-Fluoride or 
Sodium-Fluoride to Rats in Drinking Water: Alterations in Neuronal and 
Cerebrovascular Integrity," Brain Research, vol. 7 84 (1998), pp. z84-298. "There are 
striking parallels between al-induced alterations in cerebrovasculature [and] those 
associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia." 

Chapter 9 

1. Collected by Dan Hoffman, "Three Ballads of the Donora Smog," New York Folklore 
Quarterly, no. 5 (spring 1949), pp. 58-59. Quoted in Lynne Page Snyder, — The Death 
Dealing Smog over Donora, Pennsylvania': Industrial Air Pollution, Public Policy, and 
Federal Policy, 1915-1963" (1994). Available from UMI Dissertation Services. 

312 N0TEST0CHAPTER9/PP. 114 — 118 

2. Bulletin No. 306, Air Pollution in Donora, PA, Epidemiology of the Unusual 

Smog Episode of October 1948 (Public Health Service). 

3. Donora is often referred to as the worst recorded air-pollution disaster in U. 

S. history. This may or may not be entirely true. During a similar seasonal temperature 
inversion from November 12 to 22, 1953, between 175 and 260 people were killed in 
New York City from air pollution, according to Howard R. Lewis, With Every Breath 
You Take (New York: Crown Publishers, 1965), p. 19. Although there were numerous 
complaints of eye irritation and coughing, the total number of New York deaths from the 
smog incident was only revealed later by statistical analysis, Lewis writes. 

4. A key source for this chapter is Lynne Page Snyder's excellent ""The Death 

Dealing Smog over Donora."' 

5. The 1949 official Public Health Service report, Bulletin No. 306, Air Pollution 

in Donora, PA, lists twenty deaths. However, Snyder refers to "dozens" of deaths, p. viii. 
Residents report many additional deaths in the weeks after the disaster. For example, 
"The death of an estimated loo people in the following year was attributed to the smog. 
Also, there were a lot of people who were affected in other ways. They were sick with 
respiratory problems. Internal illness and a couple of cases of blindness occurred." 
Account of former resident Joe Battilana, submitted as a 1970 report to Professor Gerard 
Judd of Phoenix Community College. 

6. Berton Roueche, article in The New Yorker, September 30, 1950. 

7. Roueche, case u, p. 51; and from PHS Bulletin No. 306. Ceh's name is from 

The New Yorker article. 

8. Roueche, case 9, p. 50 ; PHS Bulletin No. 306. 

9. Author's taped interview, March 24, 1993. 

10. Snyder, p. 25. 

11. Roueche, p. 41. 

12. Author's taped interview, March 24, 1993. 

13. Recollections of Mayor John Lignelli, who attended the game, in "Donora's 

Killer Smog Noted at 50," Pittsburgh Tribune, October 25, 1998. See also PHS report 
and Snyder, p. 27, for death tally. 

14. Snyder, p. 28. 

15. New York Times, November 1,1948; cited in Snyder, p. 29. 

16. Snyder, p. 33. 

17. For employment data, see Snyder, p. 35. For profit data, see Ross Bassett, " 

Air Pollution in Donora, PA" (December 6, 1990), unpublished paper, pp. 1 1 , 21-41. 
Paper from Allen Kline. See also Paul A. Tiffany, The Decline of American Steel: How 
Management, Labor, and Government Went Wrong (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1988). 

18. The main thoroughfare, McKean Avenue, was named for Andrew Mellon's 

banker James S. McKean, who had brought Mellon and Donner together with coke 
baron Henry Clay Frick and whose combined investment of $20 million raised the first 
steel works on the virgin site in 1901. Pittsburgh Press, 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 / PP. 118—122 313 

March 18, 1934, Society Section, p. 11. Also, H. O'Conner, Mellon's Millions 
( New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1933). 

19. Bassett, "Air Pollution in Donora, PA." 

20. Snyder, p. 71, Also, author interview with Bill and Gladys Shempp. 

21. E. K. Roholm, "The Fog Disaster in the Meuse Valley, 1930: A Fluorine 
Intoxication," J. Hygiene and Toxicology (March 1937), p. 126. Also, W. S. 
Leeuwen, "Fog Catastrophe in Industrial Section South of Liege," abstracted in J. 
Ind. Hygiene, vol. 13, no. 7 (September 1931), pp. 159-160 (abstract section). 

22. Sadtler gathered vegetation from across the region, tested it, and found that 

fluoride pollution was endemic and serious. "Buttonwood leaves had anywhere up 
to twelve hundred parts per million of fluorine," Sadtler noted. Further afield there 
was much less fluoride in the environment. "To get clean air with no fluorine 
damage, I had a friend who was a professor at Penn State University and he picked 
up leaves for me and they had ten parts per million," Sadtler said. Author interview. 

23. Although coal was a source of fluoride, this knowledge was poorly dissemi- 

nated. (Francis Frary announced the discovery to the Air Hygiene Foundation in 
1946, as we saw in chapter 8.) Roholm makes no mention of coal in his discussion 
of the Meuse Valley disaster, for example. And the role that fluoride from coal may 
have played in the London smog disasters is almost entirely ignored. 

24. E. K. Roholm, Fluorine Intoxication: A Clinical-Hygienic Study, with a Review 

of the Literature and Some Experimental Investigations (London: H. K. Lewis and 
Co. Ltd, 1937), chapter 13. 

25. When the senior U.S. Steel metallurgist Glen Howis, who was born in Donora, had 
a routine medical exam before attending Penn State, a college doctor told him, "I 
can always tell you boys from the valley from the looks of your X-rays. Your lungs 
are always clouded," Howis recalled. Author interview in Donora. 

26. The U.S. steel industry emitted 64,600 tons of fluoride in "1968 or 1972," 

according to EPA figures, cited by the Canadian National Research Council, NRCC 
#16081, ISSN 0316-0114. "Coal for power" is next at 26,000 tons, phosphate rock 
processing at 21,200 tons, and then aluminum smelting, at 16,230 tons. See similar 
data in "Summary Review of Health Effects Associated with Hydrogen Fluoride 
and Related Compounds" (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, December 
1988). For characterization of fluoride as "worst," see citations for fluoride toxicity 
and damage in chapter 15. For example: "From 1957 to 1968, fluoride was 
responsible for more damage claims than all twenty other air pollutants combined." 
N. Groth, "Air Is Fluoridated," Peninsula Observer, January 27-February 3, 1969. 
See also chapter 8, citations on lawsuits against the steel industry, and chapter 15's 
reference to fluoride's synergistic potential to worsen the toxicity of such pollutants 
as sulfur dioxide. 

27. For fluoride's chronic health effects in Donora, see account of resident Devra 

314 NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 /PP. 122 127 

28. B. Davidson, Collier's (October 23, 1948). But other air pollution experts, 

such as Harvard Professor Philip Drinker, had scorned the idea that a Meuse 
Valley — type disaster could occur in the United States. "We have no districts in which 
there is even a reasonable chance of such a catastrophe taking place," he asserted. P. 
Drinker, Industrial and Engineering Chem. ( November 1939). 

29. Medical exams of plaintiffs by Kettering physicians, July 1950, William Ashe 

physician in charge. Box 5, RAK Collection. 

30. Snyder, p. 28. 

31. Dudley A. Irwin, Aluminum Company of America, minutes of meeting, Air 

Pollution Abatement Committee, the Chemists Club, New York City, January 11, 1950. 
Minutes of Manufacturing Chemists Association, from searchable database of the 
Environmental Working Group. 

32. Oscar Ewing also led a semisecret group of administration insiders known 

informally as the Monday Night Steak Group. These men met most weeks at Ewing's 
Wardman Park apartment in Washington, DC, to plot strategy and discuss government 
policy over dinner and cigars. Clark Clifford, a military confidante and Truman favorite, 
was a regular at the Monday night meetings. See Ewing interview and Clark Clifford's in 
the Truman Library ( available online). 

33. P. Healy, "The Man the Doctors Hate," Saturday Evening Post, July 8, 1950. 

34. Ewing's war years were spent in a Washington hotel suite with Alcoa senior 
management, defending the company's strategic interests from upstart companies such as 
Reynolds and Kaiser, who were fighting Alcoa's nearly fifty-year monopoly on 
aluminum production. After the war Ewing was invited to an intimate Washington dinner 
with Alcoa's president, Arthur Vining Davis, and senior officials from the Alcoa 
"family." Arthur Hall to Ewing, September 4,1945. Personal Correspondence: August 
1,1944-September 20, 1945. 

35. In early 1947 Ewing was a special assistant to the attorney general. He 

became FSA administrator in August 1947. See oral history interview, Truman Library, 
available online. 

36. Ewing to Ingersoll, June 30, 1947, Political File, Correspondence, Ewing Collection. 
Ewing helped family members gain from trading fluoride. On July 8, 1946, he arranged a 
meeting for a relative, Thomas Batchelor, and Paul Collom, president of the Farmers 
Bank of Frankfort, Indiana, with President Allen B. Williams of the Aluminum Ore 
Company, in regard to " some fluorspar property in Kentucky" that Collum had acquired. 
Personal Correspondence, Ewing Collection. 

37. Pittsburg Press, November 3, 1948. John Bloomfield was no stranger to Donora. 
Twenty years earlier, as a public official, he had helped American Steel and Wire 
attorneys to prepare a legal defense against pollution-damage claims by area residents. 
His job had been to test air quality. Bloomfield now told the newspaper that he recalled 
that his old measurements in Donora had shown that industrial emissions were safely 
diluted. Snyder, p. 40. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 / PP. 127-132 315 

38. "Therefore the Company comes to us." Kehoe handwritten note, with the 

word "Mr. Jordan" (president of American Steel and Wire) at the top. Box 5, 
RAK Collection. 

39. Snyder, p. 148. 

40. On Schrenk's participation, see "Committee on Fluoride Metabolism, Round 

Table Discussion During Luncheon Period, Continued in the Evening, January 6, 
1944." Conference on Fluoride Metabolism, Hotel Pennsylvania, New York. File 
Labeled G-118 (c), Az, Box 36, Accession #72C2386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. Also, 
James Conant wrote to the Bureau of Mines, at Col. Warren's request, to have 
Schrenk go to the Rochester bomb program during the war. Conant to R. R. Sayers, 
February 3, 1944, Document #0291, Records of Section S-l Executive Committee, 
RG 227.3.1. 

41. Snyder, p. 152. 

42. Snyder, p. 152. 

43. Chemical and Engineering News (December 18, 1948) and author interview. 

The PHS report on Donora did not find excessive dental mottling. Author visit to 
Donora in 1993 noted severe mottling. For preexisting community health problems, 
see Donora resident Devra Lee Davis's When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of 
Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution (New York: Basic 
Books, 2003). 

44. U.S. Steel officials knew of the Meuse Valley disaster and of Roholm's report 

that blamed fluoride. Court Brief, "Evidence of Foreseeability," Box 5, RAK 

45. Snyder, p. 29. 

46. Pete Eisler, "Poisoned Workers and Poisoned Places," multipart series, USA 

Today, September 6-8, 2000. 

47. All correspondence, Box 5, RAK Collection. 

48. W.F.A to Dr. Kehoe, undated, RAK Collection. 

49. Box 5, RAK Collection. 

50. Ashe, of course, was well acquainted with Alcoa officials and their concerns 

with fluoride. That summer he had performed an investigation of health conditions 
for Kettering in Alcoa's Niagara Falls aluminum plant and found widespread injury 
and disability in workers that he attributed to fluoride. Aluminum Company of 
America, Niagara Falls Works Health Survey, File 4, Box 82, RAK Collection. 

51. Not a conclusion shared by Phyllis Mullenix, who said that if the fluorine 

had been in soluble gaseous form, then it might readily have passed into the 
blood, leaving no trace in the lung tissue. 

52. The meeting had been arranged in advance through a family friend, Sadtler 

explained. Author interview. 

53. After meeting directly with the FSA in Washington, the CIO allocated $lo, 

000 for the investigation. Oscar Ewing was close to labor leaders and had been 
an associate of Sidney Hillman, boss of the CIO. Hillman died in 1946. 

316 NOTES TO CHAPTER 9 / PP. 132—143 

54. PHS memorandum, November 16,1948: "Report of Investigation at Donora, 
Pennsylvania," to Chief of Industrial Hygiene Division from Chief of the Field Unit, 
Duncan A. Holaday. PHS, Air Pollution Medical Branch, Special Projects, Folder 542.1 
(1956). National Archives. 

Chapter to 

1. Snyder, p. 70. 

2. Author interview with Allen Kline, March 23, 1993. 

3. "The Donora Smog Disaster," Hygia, The Health Magazine (AMA), October 1 


4. Thomas Bell, Out of This Furnace (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1941; reprinted 
Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976), PP- 356-357, cited in Ross Bassett, 
"Air Pollution in Donora, PA," unpublished paper, December 6, 1990. 

5. Snyder, p. 217. 

6. Following the smog, "Not a single adjustment was made in the production 

system — no pollution control devices, nothing, and there was nothing ten years later," 
Allen Kline told me. 

7. Snyder, p. 219. 

8. Kehoe to J. G. Townsend, Townsend to Kehoe, and data for Ashe, Box 5, 

RAK Collection. Also, Snyder, p. 258. 

9. See chapter 9. 

10. Air Pollution in Donora, PA, Bulletin 306, USPHS, p. 161. 
n. Box 5, RAK Collection. 

12. W. F. Ashe to E. Soles, July II, 1949, and Largent's report from August 8, 1 

949, which found no mgs f/kilo (dry basis) in elm leaves three quarters of a mile 
opposite the open-hearth furnace. Box 5, RAK Collection. 

13. F. A. Exner, "Economic Motives Behind Fluoridation," address to the West-em 
Conference of Natural Food Associates, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 27, 1961. 

14. Monessen Daily Independent, November 18, 1949, cited in Snyder, p. 170. 

15. She has evaluated the health threat from several government Department of Energy 
nuclear sites, including Oak Ridge. She wrote the government monograph "Summary 
Review of Health Effects Associated with Hydrogen Fluoride and Related Compounds." 
(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, December 1988). 

16. So did the Society for Better Living, which charged the mill with reducing effluents 
during the test smog by staggering the run of mill processes rather than performing them 
simultaneously, as was standard practice. Snyder, p. 170. 

17. Drinker, too, was well aware of the fluoride problem facing the AEC, since he serviced 
the agency as a litigation consultant on stack "waste gases." Phillip Drinker to Dr. 
Thomas Shipman, Health Division Leader, Los Alamos, November 14, 1950. RG 326. 
Medicine Health and Safety. NARA. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 11 / PP. 144—149 317 

18. A. Ciocco and D. J. Thompson, "A follow-up of Donora ten years after: 

methodology and findings," Am. I. Public Health, vol. 51 (1961), pp. 155-64. H. 
Lewis, With Every Breath You Take, p. 201 

19. Memorandum: "Discussion with Mr. Rumford on his "Study of the Correlation of 
Meteorological Conditions and Morbidity in Donora' during his recent one day visit 
to Washington," from Nicholas Manos, Chief Statistician, Air Pollution Medical 
Program, Division of Special Health Services, to Records File, November 18,1957, 
Box 13, File 542.1, RG 90 Records of the Public Health Service, Air Pollution 
Medical Branch Project Records, 1953-1960. 

20. Snyder describes Rumford as a "consultant." He is described as being " assigned" 
to Dr. Ciocco in the memorandum "Mr. Rumford's Report on Donora" from 
Nicholas Manos, Chief Statistician, Air Pollution Medical Program, to Chief, Air 
Pollution Medical Program, January 29,1958, Box 13 File 542.1, RG 90 Records of 
the Public Health Service, Air Pollution Medical Branch Project Records, 

Chapter u 

1. In 1946 Congress passed the Strategic and Critical Materials Stockpiling Act. In 
2001 the Defense Nation Stockpile, maintained by the Pentagon, held 112, 000 tons 
of fluoride in sites around the country. U.S. Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbook, 

2. The task force was known formally as the President's Materials Policy Com- 
mission; its report was published in five volumes as Resources for Freedom in June 
1952. (An annex to this report, referred to in several commission documents found 
in the Truman Library, is not in the National Archives holdings, and researchers 
were not able to find a reference for it. "The final report of the Paley Commission 
consists of only 5 volumes, all of which are open," stated an e-mail from NARA 
archivist Tab Lewis, June 26, 2001.) 

3. D. M. Lion, "Fluorspar, Draft Commodity Study," marked "RESTRICTED," Box 
12, Folder "Fluorspar," PMPC, Truman Library. Fluorspar's use increased a 
hundredfold from 1887 to 1950 — annual consumption from 5,000 short tons to 
426,000 thousand short tons. D. M. Lion, "Commodity Studies, Fluorspar," NSRB 
6109, Paley Commission, Truman Archive. 

4. Haman and Anderson to PMPC. Haman noted especially "the comparatively new 
use of fluorspar in the production of uranium hexafluoride for the manufacture of 
the atomic bomb." PMPC, Truman Library, Box 113, Fluorspar. 

5. D. M. Lion, "Fluorspar, Draft Commodity Study." Also, H. Mendershausen, " 
Review of Strategic Stockpiling." Only 28,671 tons of bomb-quality "acid grade" 
fluoride was stockpiled in October 1951, just n percent of desired levels, 
Menderhausen reported. PMPC, Truman Library. 

6. Analysts were enthusiastic about the phosphate beds as a source of fluorine. "If 
economic methods can be developed and applied for recovering most of this 
fluorine as a byproduct of phosphate processing, the yield would amount to the 
equivalent of about 600,000 to 700,000 tones of loo percent 

318 NOTES TO CHAPTER11/PP. 149-151 

calcium fluoride . . . Such an annual increment would more than make up our potential 
deficit to years hence," the Paley Commission stated. "All the resources of technology 
must be enlisted to solve the problems of assuring ample supplies of fluorspar, or 
fluorine containing materials," the report added. Resources for Freedom, June 1952. 

7. A. F. Blakey, The Florida Phosphate Industry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard 

University Press, 1973), p. 112 citing the Florida Air Pollution Control Commission. 

8. Paul Manning to Donor M. Lion, August 13, 1951, PMPC, Truman Library, 

Box 113, Fluorspar. 

9. For an account of this longstanding battle, see A. F. Blakey, The Florida 
Phosphate Industry, citing the Florida Air Pollution Control Commission. 
Also interview with Philip Sadder and Congressional hearings chaired by 
Senator Ed Muskie. Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the Com 
mittee on Public Works of the United States Senate, 59th Congress, June 7-15, 
1966 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office), pp. 113-343. 

Paul Manning was well aware of the scale of the fluoride-pollution problem around 
the country. He was an associate of both Robert Kehoe and the head of the Fluorine 
Lawyers Committee, Frank Seamans, who invited him to participate in the sponsored 
research at the Kettering laboratory. "On behalf of our client, Alcoa, I have for some 
time been participating in an informal group of lawyers, all of whom have clients 
involved in fluoride claims of one kind or another. ... I know that your company is 
interested in this problem to some extent and that conversations have occurred between 
myself and other Alcoa representatives and personnel of your company." Seamans to 
Paul D. V. Manning, International Minerals and Chemical Corporaton, August 30, 1956. 
File 76, Box 5, RAK Collection. 

10. The Tennessee Valley Authority was also interested. "A recovery system that 

would pay its own way should be attractive . . . the present price of sodium fluosilicate 
and increased demand for it will very likely encourage more manufactures to recover 
it" said TVAs T. P. Hignett. PMPC, Truman Library, Box 113, Fluorspar. 

11. Elias, Technology Reports, p. 9, PMCC, Truman Library, Box 130. 

12. It was beyond my resources to probe deeply the Florida cold-war uranium 

story. How much additional fluoride was produced by such production, and whether 
money was saved by using fluorsilicic acid as a water fluoridation agent remains to be 
reported. For Florida as source of cold-war uranium, see P. Eisler, "Poisoned Workers 
and Poisoned Places," USA Today, multipart series, September 6-8, 2000.Of interest, 
two companies producing uranium from phosphate included International Minerals 
and Chemical Corporation and the Olin Mathieson Corporation. The former is cited in 
the text and notes above, while Olin was one of the companies that joined Reynolds in 
the amicus curie brief for the Martin trial appeal (see chapter 13). 

13. Rebecca Hanmer, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, to Leslie A 

Russell, DMD, March 3, 1983. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 11 / PP. 151-153 319 

14. D. McNeil, Fight for Fluoridation,(New York: Oxford University Press, 1957), 

p. 209, II. 22. 

15. "By the end of the fifth year a reexamination of the school pupils in New-burgh and 
Kingston showed that the Newburgh children had approximately 65 percent fewer 
cavities than the children of Kingston. The report of these findings was made public over 
my name ... ," Oscar Ewing, Oral History Interview with J. R. Fuchs of the Truman 
Library in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, April and May 1969. Truman Library. 

16. Philip R. N. Sutton, Fluoridation; Errors and Omissions in Experimental Trials 
(Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 1959), p. 49, for calcium in water, citing 
E.W. Lohr and S. K. Love., 1954, "The Industrial Utility of Public Water Supplies 
in the United States, 1952" (U.S. Geological Survey), and United Kingdom 
Mission Report, The Fluoridation of Domestic Water Supplies in North America 
as a Means of Controlling Dental Caries (London: HM Stationary Office, 1953). 
John A. Forst, MD, The University of the State of New York, the State Education 
Department, Albany, NY, Division of Pupil Services, to Dr. James G. Kerwin, the 
Department of Health, Passaic, New Jersey, October 26, 1954. Via Martha Bevis. 

17. See chapters 9 and io for Ewing's profile. Clifford had helped to write the 

National Security Act of 1947, which had authorized the CIA. See his interview 
at the Truman Library. 

18. Letter from H. V. Smith to George Waldbott, January 6, 1964, cited in A 
Struggle with Titans, p. 65 . See also, "Beyond certain limits, fluorides are toxic 
and that the first evidence of toxicity manifests itself in the form of mottled 
enamel," B. Bibby, "Effects of Topical Application of Fluorides on on Dental 
Caries." In Fluorine in Dental Public Health (New York Institute of Clinical Oral 
Pathology Inc, A Symposium, 1944). 

19. D. McNeil, Fight for Fluoridation, p. 74. 

20. M. C. Smith and H. V. Smith, "Observations on the Durability of Mottled 

Teeth," Am. J. Public Health, 30 (1940), p. 1050, cited in Waldbott, A Struggle 
with Titans, p. 12. 

21. B. Lee, "Boon or Blunder?" Toronto Globe and Mail, January 1954, cited in G. 

L. Waldbott, A Struggle with Titans, p. 11. 

22. Waldbott had emigrated to the United States in 1923. His father, Leo Wald- 

bott, barely escaped the terror of Hitler's regime, in December 1938 joining 
George and an elder brother Emil in Detroit, Michigan. For several generations the 
Waldbotts had been important members of the community of Speyer, on the Rhine. 
Leo Waldbott was chairman of the Speyer teachers' and cantors' club, and 
treasurer of the local Jewish home for the elderly, which was burned to the ground 
by the Nazis on November io, 1938. "My Life Before and After Jan. 30, 1933," by 
Leo Waldbott, via Elizabeth Ramsay, George Waldbott's daughter. 

23. For pollen, "In Memoriam— G. L. Waldbott (January 14, 1898-July 17,1982)," 

Fluoride vol. 15, no. 4 (1982); Contact Dermatitis (Springfield, IL: Charles C. 
Thomas, 1935); "Anaphylactic Death from Penicillin," J. Am. Med. Assoc, 

320 153—155 

vol. 139 (1949), pp. 526-527; Time, March 7, 1949; "Smoker's Respiratory Syndrome," 
J. Am. Med. Assoc, vol. 151 (1953), pp. 1398-1400. 

24. Edith Waldbott referred her husband to the hearings chaired by New York Congressman 
James Delaney (Dem.) in February 1952, before the House Select Committee to 
Investigate the Use of Chemicals in Food and Cosmetics. (Congressman A. L. Miller here 
exposed Oscar Ewing's vested interest as a former Alcoa attorney.) She pointed to a 
January 1954 eight-part series called "Boon or Blunder" in t h e Toronto Globe and Mail. 
She had also seen a Seattle Times story of December 16, 1952, which detailed Alcoa's 
efforts to fund fluoride research, according to Waldbott, A Struggle with Titans. The first 
article Edith Waldbott gave her husband was James Rorty's "The Truth About 
Fluoridation" in The Freeman (Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: June 1953). 

25. G. L. Waldbott, "Chronic Fluorine Intoxication from Drinking Water," Int. Arch. 
Allergy Appl. Immunol., 7 (1955), pp. 70-74. "Incipient Chronic Fluorine Intoxication 
from Drinking Water," Acta Med. Scand., 156 (1956), pp. 157-168. "Tetaniform 
Convulsions Precipitated By Fluoridated Drinking Water," Confin. Neurol., 17 (1957), 
pp. 339-347. 

26. G. L. Waldbott, "Allergic Reactions to Fluorides," Intern. Arch. Allergy, 12 ( 

1958), p. 347, and "Urticaria Due to Fluoride," Acta Allergologica, 13 (1959), 
p. 456. 

27. R. Feltman and G. Kosel, "Prenatal and Postnatal Ingestion of Fluorides — Fourteen 
years of Investigation — Final Report," J . Dent Med., 16 (1961), pp. 190-199. See also 
double blind tests in Haarlem, Holland, by Moolenburgh and others. G. W. Grimbergen, 
"A Double Blind Test for Determination of Intolerance to Fluoridated Water (Preliminary 
Report)," Fluoride, 7 (1974), PP. 147-152. 

28. The director of the Forsyth Dental Infirmary for Children in Boston, V. O. Hurme, 
warned in 1952, "Medical researchers have paid relatively little attention to the problem 
of chronic fluoride toxicosis." He worried about fluoride's potential effect on teeth and 
gums. "Among the very inadequately studied physical signs of fluoride toxicosis are 
inflammation and destruction of gingival and periodontal (gum) tissue. Published and 
unpublished observations by many men suggest rather strongly that periodontoclasia 
( gum disease) may be induced by certain chemicals, including fluoride," noted Hurme. V. 
O. Hurme, "An Examination of the Scientific Basis for Fluoridating Populations," Dent. 
Items of Interest, 74 (1952): pp. 5i8-534. 

29. G. W. Rapp, "The Pharmacology of Fluoride," The Bur (April 1950). Cited in 

Walbott, A Struggle with Titans, p. 19. 

30. H. T. Dean,"Chronic Endemic Dental Fluorosis," JAMA, 107 (October 17, 1936), pp. 
1269-1273. Also, H. T. Dean, F. S. McKay, and E. Elvove, "Mottled Enamel Survey of 
Bauxite, Arkansas Ten Years After Change in the Common Water Supply," Pub. Health 
Rep, 53 (September 30, 1938), pp. 1736-1748. 

31. H. C. Hodge and F. A. Smith, "Some Public Health Aspects of Water Fluo- 

ridation," in James H. Shaw, ed., Fluoridation as a Public Health Measure ( AAAS, 
1954), and The Problem of Providing Optimum Intake for Prevention 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 11 / PP. 155—156 

of Dental Caries: A Report of the Committee on Dental Health of the Food and Nutrition 
Board, Prepared by the Subcommittee on Optimal Fluoride Levels ( NRC Publication 
294, 1953). 

32. Hodge relied on the unpublished personal assertions of Alcoa's top fluoride expert, Dr. 
Dudley Irwin, for his frequently reiterated assurances that industrial workers, and by 
extension the general population, were not being injured by fluoride. "In industrial 
populations, Irwin (REF: Irwin, Dud-ley. Personal communication) has come to the 
conclusion that if the urine contains less than 5 mg. per liter (presumably indicating a 
fluoride intake of less than 5 to 10 mg per day), osteosclerosis never develops. On this 
basis, it can be predicted that persons drinking fluoridated water and excreting 
approximately 1 mg of fluoride per day will never develop demonstrable 
osteosclerosis." (Emphasis added)-H. C. Hodge, "Fluoride metabolism: its significance 
in water fluoridation," DADA, vol. 52 (1956) pp. 307-314. Such reassurances flew in 
the face of the work of Siddiqui (1955), for example, who measured the urine F in 
skeletal fluorosis: "The urinary fluoride excretion varied between 1.2 and 5.8 ppm . . . 
The mean values for blood and urinary fluoride were 0.34 and 2.75 ppm respectively." A. 
H. Siddiqui, "Fluorosis in Nalgonda district, Hyderabad-Deccan," British Medical 
Journal (December to, 1955), pp. 1408-1413. There are a number of additional and 
obvious problems with relying on Dr. Dudley Irwin for medical reassurances. The 
aluminum industry was one of leading fluoride polluters in the country, with an 
enormous interest in "proving' fluoride safe. And Alcoa in particular had failed to 
disclose a great deal of health information about fluoride. For example, their discovery 
of high fluoride levels in the blood of one of the Donora dead was never made public 
(see chapter 9). Their 1948 study of aluminum workers in Niagara Falls, NY, in which 
high incidence of disability was reported was also never disclosed (see chapter 3). 
Additionally, Dr. Irwin was the head of the Medical Advisory Committee, which had 
been constituted by the Fluorine Lawyers Committee in order to help industry fight and 
defend against legal claims of fluoride injury from workers (see chapter 8). Nor would 
the threshold injury level for skeletal fluorosis be the only serious misstatement by 
Hodge relating to fluoride analysis. Astonishingly, and with surely devastating 
consequences for public health, he claimed, " Serious kidney injury or disease does not 
interfere with fluoride excretion, e.g., in rabbits given near-fatal doses of uranium (a 
kidney poison), in rats poisoned with fluoride, in elderly patients and in children 
suffering from kidney diseases (Hodge and Smith 1954)." H. C. Hodge. "Safety factors 
in water fluoridation based on the toxicology of fluorides." Proceedings of the 
Nutrition Society 22 (1963), pp. 111-117. 

33- D. McNeil, The Fight for Fluoridation, p. 184. 

34. HR 2341 "A Bill to Protect the Public Health From the Dangers of Fluorina-tion of 
Water." Hearings Before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. House of 
Representatives, 83rd Congress. May 25-27, 1954. Fred- 

322 NOTES TO CHAPTER 11 / PP. 156—161 

erick Exner of Seattle and Dr. Veikko Hurme of the Forsyth Dental Infirmary also 

testified against fluoridation. 
Hearings,™ 2341, p. 472. 35. 

36. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. 

Institute of Medicine (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997), p. 311, citing H. 

C. Hodge and F. A. Smith, "Occupational Fluoride Exposure," J . O c c u p . Med., 19 

(1977), pp. 12-39. 

Chapter 12 

1. "Outlook," November 22, 1991, BBC Word Service. 

2. Although a favorite Bernays strategy was to harness liberal ideals such as 
women's suffrage for clients, it was often done with cynical or mercenary 
intent. Privately he was contemptuous of those with average intelligence and 
won corporate clients by warning them of the dangers of democracy and 
socialism. See the account of his speech to oil executives: "Eddie led the oil 
boys up to the brink of the public ownership precipice, and let them look 
into the yawning abyss. Oh my, hold on tight!" E. L. Bernays, Biography of 
an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays (New York: 
Simon and Schuster, 1965), p. 780. 

Bemays's "hallucination of democracy" was described by writer Stuart Ewen as a 
hierarchical world in which "an intelligent few" had the responsibility of "adjusting the 
mental scenery from which the public mind, with its limited intellect, derives its opinions." 
S. Ewen, PR: A Social History of Spin ( New York: Basic Books, 1996), p. 10. 

3. Bernays does not mention the fluoride campaign in his autobiography, Biography of an 
Idea. He was reluctant to discuss it with this author, at first denying his involvement. When 
confronted with his own prior admissions to the medical writer Joel Griffiths, Bernays 
agreed to discuss several aspects of his involvement. Second taped author interview at 
Bernays home, December u, 1 993. 

4. L. Tye, The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Rela- 

tions (New York: Crown, 1998); for Crisco: Procter and Gamble file in ELB Archive, 
Library of Congress. 

5. E. L. Bernays, Propaganda (New York: Horace Liveright, 1928). 

6. Chapter 11. 

7. Bernays to Dr. Leona Baumgartner, commissioner of health, the City of New York, 
December 8, 1960. City officials were also advised by Dr. Edward A. Suchman, a social 
scientist employed by the Health Department, on how "to obtain fluoridation by edict 
rather than referendum" because, he explained, " the opposition seems to get a better 
reception from the public in any battle of propaganda or public debate." E. Suchman to Dr. 
Paul Densen, December 13, 1960. 

Fluoridation could be achieved, Suchman added, by "a systematic targeted campaign 
directed at those specific officials who had voted against fluorida-tion" and by lobbying 
"ethnic groups of political importance." E. Suchman 

NOTES TO C H A P T E R 12 / PP. 161-163 323 

to Dr. Arthur Bushel, Director of the Bureau of Dentistry, New York Health 
Department, February 9, 1961. Suchman suggests several "courses of action." The 
first: "Remove the fluoridation issue from the arena of public opinion. Make the 
decision a health ruling form the Board of Health and/or secure enough votes from 
the Board of Estimate to back up this ruling." The second item: "Change the 
balance of public opinion so that the political leader can be convinced that a large 
majority of his supporters favors this action. This is difficult to do on a mass basis, 
but should be possible in terms of specific group pressures, especially from those 
groups carrying political weight. This is behind our current attempt to determine 
the major ethnic groups of political importance in particular communities." This 
memo is cc'd to Leona Baumgartner, Paul Densen, and Edward Bernays. Leona 
Baumgartner file, ELB Collection, Library of Congress. 

8. Baumgartner wrote Bernays: "The problem of equal time has been a continual 
headache with the networks. I don't know what to do about this." Baumgartner to 
Bernays, February 14, 1961, Baumgartner file, ELB papers, Library of Congress. He 
responded on February 16, 1961. 

9. Robert Kehoe wrote, "The question of the public safety of fluoridation is non- 
existent from the viewpoint of medical science." Our Children's Teeth (New York: 
Committee to Protect our Children's Teeth, 1957), p. 31. io. The committee received a 
$25,350 grant from Kellogg Foundation and "a second" $2,500 grant from the 
Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Bethuel Webster to Detlev Bronk, January 13, 1958. Folder 
42, Correspondence, Box 21, Detlev Bronk Collection, Rockefeller Archive, RG 303-U. 
11. Beginning in May 1940, Webster had been present at luncheon meetings of the 
prestigious Century Association, an elite club of powerbrokers and wealthy families, 
whose members have included eight presidents of the United States. Those luncheons, 
"resulted in the organization of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and 
Development, led by Centurions Vannevar Bush and James Conant," according to a 
chronicler of the group, William J. Vanden Heuvel. See "Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A 
Man of the Century," an address by William J. Vanden Heuvel to the Monthly Meeting 
of The Century Association, April 4, 2002, press release of the Franklin and Eleanor 
Roosevelt Institute. 

Also, Webster worked with Vannevar Bush and Carroll L. Wilson (the AEC's 
first general manager) to help shape the direction of scientific research in the 
immediate postwar period. See J. D. Kevles,"The National Science Foundation and 
the debate over Postwar Research Policy — A Political Interpretation of 
Science — the Endless Frontier," in R. L. Numbers and C. Rosenberg, eds., the 
Scientific Enterprise in America:Readings from Isis (Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1996), p. 313. 

Webster wanted to win the public battle for fluoridation in New York and thus 
persuade the entire nation. See Webster's letter to Robert Kehoe, asking him to 
contribute to the Committee's booklet: "Local authorities must be more than 
convinced. . . . For the good of the cause I hope you 

324 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 12 I PP. 163—164 

will not be unduly modest . . . they must be furnished with irrefutable evidence in a 
popular form to protect them from criticism of the favorable action which we hope they 
will take. ... By conclusively demonstrating to local authorities our ability to meet and 
demolish the opposition, fluorida-tion and future public health measures may be saved 
from the impossible requirements of mass scientific education, popular referenda, etc." 
Webster to Kehoe, December 11, 1956, Box 42. File: "Committee to Protect Our 
Children's Teeth," RAK Collection. 

12. Listening as Bronk dictated his contribution to Our Children's Teeth was Shields 
Warren, the former director of the AEC's Division of Biology and Medicine. Dr. Warren 
"was in agreement with all that I have said," wrote Bronk in his contribution. Bronk was 
president of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. 

13. Bernays, Biography of an Idea, p. 380. 

14. New York's Board of Estimate voted for fluoridation after a marathon public 

hearing, which lasted for twenty hours. 

15. Dr. J. Knutson, Assistant Surgeon General, Chief Dental Officer PHS to E. 

L. Bernays, February 14, 1961, and Bernays to Knutson, February 16, 1961, in 
Baumgartner file, E. L. Bernays papers, Library of Congress. 

16. In the summer of 1951, just one year after the PHS endorsement, Dr. John 
Knutson — then the top official at the National Institutes of Dental Health — 
summoned state dental directors to Washington. It was time for a sales 
pitch. The officials gathered at 9:40 AM in the Washington, DC, offices of the 
Federal Security Administration on Wednesday, June 6, 1951. Sitting in the 
meeting were the surgeon general, Leonard Scheele, Katherine Bain of the 
Children's Bureau, Phil Phair from the American Dental Association, and a 
top official from the Kellogg Foundation, Phil Blackerby. 

The keynote speaker was Wisconsin's state dental director, Dr. Frank Bull. He had 
recently fought a furious but losing battle for fluoridation in the town of Seven Points. He 
now outlined a game plan for state authorities. "Keep fluoridation from going to a 
referendum," advised Bull. "Are we trying to promote this thing, or do we want to argue 
about it? When we are inviting the public in and the press in, don't have anybody on the 
program who is going to go ahead and oppose us because he wants to study it some 
more. . . . You are like any salesman," Bull told his fellow dental directors, " You have got 
to be positive." He added, "Don't put any its, ands or buts, or maybes in the thing . . . you 
have got to get a policy that says "Do it.' That is what the public wants, you know." 

Health officials had to choose their words carefully, Bull advised. If asked, " Isn't 
fluoride the thing that causes mottled enamel or fluorosis?" Bull suggested, "Tell them 
this, that at one part per million dental fluorosis brings about the most beautiful teeth that 
anyone ever had. And we show them some pictures of such teeth. We don't try to say that 
there is no such thing as fluorosis, even at 1.2 parts per million, which we are 
recommending, but you have got to have an answer. Maybe you have a better one.... We 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 12 / P. 165 325 

use the term "artificial fluoridation,'" he added. "There is something about that term 
that means a phony. . . . We call it controlled fluoridation." 

Bull especially chided Katherine Bain of the Children's Bureau. Fluoride 
toxicity was probably the toughest issue facing promoters, he noted. "I noticed that 
Dr. Bain used the term "adding sodium fluoride.' We never do that. That is rat 
poison," Bull said. "You add fluorides. Never mind that sodium fluoride 
business ... all of those things give the opposition something to pick at, and they 
have got enough to pick at without our giving them any more. But this toxicity 
question is a difficult one. I can't give you the answer on it." 

17. Some of the best information on this spying comes from the archive of 
author Donald McNeil. While writing influential articles on fluoride for The 
Nation, among others, McNeil had compiled an extensive list of antifluoride 
opponents. He was helped in his list-keeping by the American Water Works 
Association. He had written to its executive secretary Raymond J. Faust, on 
May 5, 1954, asking for the names of fluoride opponents: "I have a dossier 
on every anti I have ever heard of in the country. This includes even names 
and what background I know about of a person who might only have writ 
ten a letter to the editor. By collecting the background on EVERYONE I 
hope to find a pattern which will eventually lead to an intelligent labeling of 
the opposition" (emphasis in original). 

Faust wrote to McNeil in reply, "We have from time to time developed some 
background information on some opponents of fluoridation. I will send you a copy 
of the material we have produced, however, it is sent to you with the understanding 
that it must be kept confidential or if used the source of the material must not be 
made public. We have been very careful to keep this material under lock and key as 
you may well understand." A document entitled "List of Rabid Opponents of 
Fluoridation" is found alongside. Faust to McNeil, May 13, 1954, File ADA 53-56, 
and ADA Misc, Box 1, McNeil Collection, Wisconsin State Historical Society. 

18. Science, vol. 1S3 (September 23, 1966), p. 1498. See also letter from Donald 
McNeil to Peter Goulding, Director of Public Information, ADA, February 24, 1961. 
"Dear Pete ... I see your powerful hand at work.... Today, along with your letter, I 
received one from Dr. Van Rensselaer Sill, Information Officer, Division of Dental 
Public Health and Resources, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He 
wrote to me care of The Nation, which was strange, but because of what he said, I 
can only conclude that he has been in touch with you or someone from the ADA. He 
said that he was interested in the "paperback on the opponents' [a book McNeil was 
then shopping] and that he had 'some material on these learned gentlemen.' He 
hoped that I would call on him for any of the information they had in their offices." 
File 15, ADA Correspondence 6o-63, Box 1, McNeil Collection, Wisconsin State 
Historical Society. 

19. Several examples of professional censure for opposing fluoridation are 

cited in G. L. Waldbott et al., Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma 
( Lawrence, KS: 

326 NOTES TO CHAPTER 12 / PP. 165—166 

Coronado Press, 1978), p. 324. "In 1961 Dr. Max Ginns of Worcester, Massachusetts 
was dropped from his state dental society after he refused to discontinue use of a petition, 
circulated in 1953, which listed 119 dentists and 59 physicians in Worcester who 
opposed fluoridation.... [In 1962] the ADA House of Delegates voted to uphold the 

20. F. B. Exner and G. L. Waldbott, The American Fluoridation Experiment ( 

New York: Devin-Adair, 1957), p. 232, letter exchange between John W. Knutson, 
assistant surgeon general, chief dental officer PHS, and Mr. James Rorty. Feltman was 
charged in his PHS grant, according to Knutson, with deter-mining "the efficiency (in 
preventing dental caries) of the addition of measured doses of fluoride salts to 
pregnant women and children." His funding was cut off because he had "not reached 
his objective and was not likely to do so." Letter to Rorty from Knutson, August 9, 

21. Waldbott's books on fluoride include Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma, 

with Albert W. Burgstahler and H. Lewis McKinney; The American Fluoridation 
Experiment, with F. B. Exner and James Rorty; and A Struggle with Titans. 

22. B. Hileman, "Fluoridation of Water," Chemical and Engineering News, vol. 

66 (August 1, 1988), pp. 26-42. 

23. Dr. Exner had served six terms as secretary of the Association of American 

Physicians and Surgeons. For McNeil's subterfuge, see File ADA 53-56, McNeil 
Collection, Wisconsin State Historical Society. 

24. Irene R. Campbell, The Role of Fluoride in Public Health: The Soundness of 

Fluoridation of Communal Water Supplies, A Selected Bibliography, Supported by 
Research Grant DE-ol493 (Formerly D-1493) from the National Institute of Dental 
Research, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. 
As an example of the censorship in the bibliography, there is not a solitary citation for 
the published works of Dr. George Waldbott discussing fluoride's toxic effects in low 
doses, nor of the published studies of French epidemiologist Lonel Rapport, who 
linked fluoride in water to mongolism, also known as Down syndrome. 

Rapport's work is discussed in Waldbott et al., Fluoridation. The following citation 
of Rapport's work included: "Rapaport, I.: "Les opacifications du crystalline 
mongolisme et cataracte senile.' Rev. Anthropol. (Paris), Ser. 2,3: 133-135, 1957. 
"Contribution a l'etude du mongolisme. Role pathogenique du fluor.' Bull. Acad. Natl. 
Med. (Paris),14o: 529 — 531, 1956. "Contribution a l'etude etiologique du mongolisme. 
Role des inhibiteurs enzymatiques. Encephale, 46: 468-481, 1957. "Nouvelles 
recherches sur le mongolism. A propos du role pathogenique du fluor.' Bull. Acad. Nat. 
Med. (Paris), 143:367-370, 1959. "Oligophrenic mongolienne et ectodermoses 
congenitatles. Ann. Dermatol. Syphiligr., 87: 263-278, 1960. "A propos du 
mongolisme infantile. Une deviation du metabolisme de tryptophane ches es enfants 
mongoliens. C. R. Hebd. Acad. Sci. 251: 474-476,1960. "Oligophrenie mongolienne et 
caries dentaires.' Rev. Stomatol. 64: 207-218, 1963." 

25. From 1957 to 1973 the ADA received $6,453,816 from the federal govern- 

ment, according to Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p. 294, citing "Directory 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 13 1 PP. 167—170 327 

of Dental Consultants and Executive Personnel and Representatives of the 
American Dental Association to National Agencies and Societies," Bureau of 
Public Information, Am. Dent. Assoc, October 19, 1955. Direct funding for 
fluoridation from the PHS is harder to ascertain. According to S. J. Kreshover, 
director of the National Institute of Dental Research, the Office of Management 
and Budget "advises that a breakdown of budgeted funds spent specifically on such 
programs or portions of projects dealing with fluorides is not available." Cited in 
National Fluoridation News, vol. 21. no. 1 (October-December 1975), p. 4. 

26. American Dental Association Radio Script, National Children's Health Day, " 

Fluoridation Fights Tooth Decay," ADA Duplicates, Box 1, 

27. This note was found in Donald McNeil's papers. It is marked "ADA Files." 
The newspapers identified as carrying the identical story are listed as: Hot 
Springs, AR, Sentinel Record, August 20, 1952; Lead, SD, Daily Call, August 
19, 1952; Idaho Evening Statesman, Boise, Idaho, August 18, 1952; Poplar 
Bluff, MO, American Republic, August 21, 1952; Newton Daily News (Iowa) 
reprinted in Boone, Iowa News-Republican on August 22, 1952. The note is 
in a file marked "ADA duplicates," Box 1, McNeil Collection, Wisconsin State 
Historical Society. 

Chapter 13 

1. See Reynolds Metals Company vs. Paul Martin. Appellant's Brief, Appeal from 

Final Judgements of the District Court for the District of Oregon, Honor-able 
William G. East, Judge. May 14, 1956, p. 3. U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit Ct. 
of Appeals, San Francisco, Court Case Papers and Printed Mat-ter, Case #14990, 
transcript of Record in six volumes, Folder 14990-14992, Box 5888-589o, RG 276. 

2. The attorneys were Frank Seamans, for Alcoa; Gordon Martin, for Kaiser 

Aluminum and Chemical Corporation; E. J. Epielman, Louis C. Viereck, and 
Lawrence A. Harvey, for Harvey Aluminum; B. W. Davis, for West Vaco Chemical 
Division of Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation; Lon P. MacFarland, for 
Monsanto Chemical Company; and R. E. McCormick and Francis R. Kirkham, for 
Olin Mathieson Chemical Corportaion. Brief Amicus Curiae, In the US Court of 
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Rehearing en banc on Appeal from Final Judgments 
of the District Court for the District of Oregon, File 18, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

3. At Harvard, Hunter had studied with Dr. Philip Drinker. Reynolds Metals 

Company vs. Paul Martin, plaintiffs direct examination, p. 471, US Court of 
Appeals, 9th Circuit Ct. of Appeals, San Francisco, Court Case Papers and Printed 
Matter, Case #14990, transcript of Record in six volumes, Folders 1 4990-14992, 
Boxes 5888-5890, RG 276. 

4. Testimony of Dr. Donald Hunter, p. 492. 

5. Ibid., p. 473. 

6. Ibid., p. 475. 

328 NOTES TO CHAPTER 13 / PP. 171-175 

7. Ibid., p. 476. Hunter was an examiner at Cambridge University. Cambridge 

had been a fluoride poison gas research center during the war. Sir Rudolph Peters also 
did his enzyme studies at Cambridge. R. E. Banks, ed., Fluorine Chemistry at the 
Millenium (Amsterdam and New York Elsevier, 2000), R. E. Banks (ed) p. 500.] 

8. University of Rochester, Progress Report for October, 1944-Abstracts, Dr. 

Harold Hodge, p. 478. "The results indicated that the inhibition of esterase activity 
produced by T [code for uranium] was small compared with that by C-216 [code for 
fluorine]. Thus 0.025 ppm C-216 caused the same percentage inhibition of esterase 
activity as too ppm T (33 percent). From these results it is concluded that in a mixture of 
T and C-216 in which the amount (by weight) of T is not more than 50-fold that of C-216 
the effect of the T upon the activity of liver esterase can be neglected." Also, "The useful 
range of this curve for determining C-216 concentrations was from 0-0.5 ppm, C-216." 
Document #S09F01B227, p. 19, ACHRE, RG 220. For a discussion of the role of 
fluoride on enzyme inhibition, and for comprehensive citations, see Waldbott et al., 
Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma. 

9. Court of Appeals for 9th Circuit, , Brief Answer to Petition for Rehearing, 

Appeals from the Final Judgements of the District Court for the District of Oregon, p. 5, 
Folders 14990-14992. 

10. Reynolds Metals Company vs. Paul Martin. Plaintiffs direct examination, p. 

500, U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit Ct. of Appeals, San Francisco, Court Case 
Papers and Printed Matter, Case #14990, transcript of record in six volumes, Folders 
14990-14992,Boxes 5888-5890, RG 276. 

11. Ibid., p. 492. 

12. Ibid., p. 1913, deposition of Paula Martin. 

13. Ibid., pp. 259 and 213, direct and cross examination of Richard Capps. 

14. Ibid., p. 245. 

15. Ibid., p. 197. 

16. See chapters 3 and 9. 

17. Direct examination of Robert Kehoe, Reynolds Metal Company vs. Paul 

Martin, pp. 995 and 997' 

18. Robert Kehoe to Edward Largent, February 13, 1956, File 5, Box 76, RAK 


19. Manufacturing Chemists Association, Inc. Minutes of the Air Pollution 
Abatement Committee, November 2, 1955. Via Environmental Working 
Group searchable database. 

20. Appellant's Brief, Appeal from Final Judgments of the District Court for the 

District of Oregon, Honorable William G. East, Judge. May 14, 1956, p. 7. 

21. Following the Martin trial, the company put Largent directly on its payroll as 

a health and environment consultant. In the years to come Reynolds and its health 
consultants would be preoccupied with another citizen protest, this time from Mohawk 
Indians on the Akwesasne reservation on the New York-Canada border, who lived 
downwind of a newly built Reynolds alu- 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 14 / PP. 177—178 329 

minum plant and who claimed that their health and economy were being destroyed 
by fluoride (see chapter 15). 

Chapter 14 

1. Reynolds Metals Company vs. Paul Martin. Petition for Rehearing en banc, p. 

6, and Appellant's Brief, p. 32 Appeal from Final Judgments of the District Court for 
the District of Oregon, Honorable William G. East, Judge. May 14, 1956. P. 3. RG 
276, US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit Ct. of Appeals, San Francisco, Court Case 
Papers and Printed Matter, Box 5888-589o, Folder 1 4990 to 14992, case #14990, 
transcript of record in six volumes. 

2. The judges were told that Our Children's Teeth included "the statements of 

one medical and scientific expert after another, all to the effect that fluorides in low 
concentrations (such as are present around aluminum and other industrial plants) 
present no hazard to man." Brief Amicus Curiae, In the U.S. Court of Appeals for 
the Ninth Circuit, Rehearing en banc on Appeal from Final Judgements of the 
District Court for the District of Oregon, p. 8, File 18, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

3. Statement of Robert Kehoe, Our Children's Teeth, A Digest of Current Scien- 

tific Opinion Based on Studies of Fluorides in Public Water Supplies, prepared by 
the Committee to Protect Our Children's Teeth, Inc., submitted to the Mayor and 
the Board of Estimate of the City of New York (1957), p. 31. 

4. R. Kehoe, "Memorandum on the Present Status and the Future Needs, with 

Respect to Information Deriving from Observation and Investigation of the 
Behavior of Inorganic Compounds of Fluorine in the Animal Organism," 
February 1, 1956, File 5, Box 76, RAK Collection. 

5. Robert Kehoe to James M. McMillan, September 20, 1961, cc: Mr. Frank 

Seamans, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

6. R. Kehoe, "Memorandum on the Present Status and the Future Needs, with 

Respect to Information Deriving from Observation and Investigation of the 
Behavior of Inorganic Compounds of Fluorine in the Animal Organism," 
February 1, 1956, File 5, Box 76, Kettering Files. 

7. The corporations "which are concerned mainly with the results of expo-sure 

to fluorides in various occupations" included "The Pennsylvania Salt 
Manufacturing Company, Aluminum Company of America, Reynolds Metals 
Company, Universal Oil Products Company, American Petroleum Institute, Kaiser 
Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Tennessee Valley Authority, The Harshaw 
Chemical Company, [and] Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Corporation," 
Kehoe told the Medical Director of the Division of Industrial Hygiene, Dr. Seward 

8. "In a meeting a little while ago," Kehoe wrote to Dr. Miller, "the question was 

raised, naturally, as to the long-term influence of small quantities of fluorides, such 
as those which might be taken in with drinking water, both in areas in which 
fluorides occur in somewhat unusual concentrations in the drinking water as well as 
those areas in which fluorides are being added to community water supplies ... I 
feel that I should transmit to you the 

330 NO'T'ES 'CO C H A P T E R 14 / PP. 178-179 

opinions expressed by this group and by the industries for whom they speak, not as a 
matter of their right to request any activity on the part of the Public Health Service, but 
rather as evidence of their interest in a broad problem of public health," Kehoe wrote. 
"That this interest has been aroused by their concern for the employees of their own 
companies, is a phenomenon which seems to me to be of some public consequence." 
Kehoe to Miller, May 20, 1952, RAK Collection. 

9. The Bartlett Cameron study examined the health of n6 people in Bartlett and 

113 from Cameron. George Waldbott noted that there was no information about how 
much fluoride the Cameron residents might have consumed in food, which had perhaps 
been grown in the nearby Bartlett area, or elsewhere in Western Texas, known as a high 
fluoride region. Although the study reported no "significant differences" in the health 
status of the two populations, there was a high incidence of cataracts, bone changes, 
arthritis and deafness in both communities, compared to the national aver-age. Also, 
mortality in Bartlett was 265 percent higher in Bartlett than in Cameron. Furthermore, 
using data on just 116 individuals to justify adding fluoride to the drinking water of 50 
million people meant that, according to George Waldbott, "if 1 in 117 were to suffer ill 
effect from fluoride in water, the number of those so afflicted among the fifty million 
citizens would be 427,35 0-a sizable incidence. Thus the sampling in the Bartlett survey 
was far too small to assure the safety of millions of people drinking fluoridated water." G. 
L. Waldbott, A Struggle with Titans, p. 296. (Leone's Bartlett research was published as 
"Medical Aspects of Excessive Fluoride in a Water Supply," Public Health Report, vol. 
69, no. 10 (October 1954). Submitted as part of the amicus curiae brief in the Martin trial, 
it was additionally published as N. C. Leone, et al. 1955. "Review of the 
Bartlett-Cameron survey: A Ten- Year Fluoride Study," J . Amer. Dent. Assoc, vol. 50, 
pp. 277-281. And Leone et al., Am J. Roentgen, vol. 74 (1955), p. 874. 

10. "This undoubtedly was the paper Dr. Leone referred to in our long distance telephone 
conversation while I was engaged in the trial of the Martin personal injury case." W. T. 
Lennon to Robert Kehoe, March 15, 1957, cc: R. W. Anderson, Alcoa, File 5/6, Box 76, 
RAK Collection. 

11. Leone had given Lennon the reference to a version of the Bartlett Cameron study, 
published as "A Roentgenologic Study of a Human Population Exposed to 
High-Fluoride Domestic Water" in Am. J. Roentgenology, Radium Therapy and 
Nuclear Medicine, vol. 74, no. 5, November 1955. The paper included reference to an 
autopsy, Lennon wrote Kehoe. "Evidently the autopsy was only complete to the extent 
of bone analysis as the paper contained no comment on soft tissue. I was wondering 
whether or not you had any talks with Dr. Leone regarding this autopsy and whether or 
not any examination was made of soft tissue." W. T. Lennon to Robert Kehoe, March 15, 
1956, cc: R. W. Anderson, Alcoa, File 5/6, Box 76, RAK Collection. 

12. Dr. Leone to Dr. Irwin, letter sent on March 5, 1957, File 5/6, Box 76, RAK Collection. 

NOTES to CHAPTER 14 / PP. 179—182 331 

13. D. A. Greenwood, "Background for Studies in Utah County," paper given at the 
1957 Kettering Fluoride Symposium. Greenwood was Professor of Biochemistry 
and Pharmacology, Utah State University. Another figure claims that the legal 
claims against U.S. Steel in Utah were for $30 million. Butler C, Proceedings: 
National Conference On Air Pollution, November 18-20, 1958, p. 268. 

14. Leone was an unapologetic propagandist for fluoride. For example, in 1983 he 
helped organize a conference at Utah State University. In the proceedings he writes, 
"Further publicizing the importance [of fluoride] in the treatment of selected cases 
of osteoporosis can help us achieve control of another facet of the fluoride problem. 
By emphasizing and appraising the older members of our aging population as to the 
beneficial aspects of fluoride at levels in the neighborhood of 5 mg per day, we can 
make known the obvious safety of fluoride levels at higher than the advocated (1 
ppm) in the prevention of dental caries in children. The process would thus give 
supportive evidence as to the safety and desirability of fluorides in human diets." J. 
L. Shupe, H. B. Peterson, and N. C. Leone, eds., "Fluorides: Effects on Vegetation, 
Animals, and Humans" (Salt Lake City, UT: Paragon Press, 1983), p. 361. 

15. Dudley Irwin to Frank Seamans, March 13, 1957, 42.17, RAK Collection. 

16. Reynolds Metals Comp vs. Yturbide, 258 F. 2d 321 (9th Cir.) cert. den. 358 U. 

S. 840 (1958), p. 25. 

17. Motion for Leave to File Brief Amicus Curiae, p. 2, and Brief, p. 5, File 18, 

Box 63, RAK Collection. 

18. Kehoe notes of meeting, Folders 18, 19, and 23, Box 63, RAK Collection. For the 
relationship of the Medical Advisory Committee to the Fluorine Lawyers, see 
Seamans to Medical Advisory Committee, April 16, 1957: "The legal 
representatives of the several companies interested in the Kettering Research project 
have agreed that it would be advantageous if the principal liaison with Kettering 
were undertaken by persons of competent technical background . . . [to] conduct the 
necessary liaison between the Kettering Institute and the lawyers' group by a system 
of regularly scheduled visitations to Kettering and regular reports to the lawyer's 
group," File 17, Box 42, RAK Collection. 

19. Leone's Bartlett Cameron study, comparing two Texas communities with low and 
high natural fluoride in water, was cited. So was his work in Provo, Utah, where 
U.S. Steel's giant plant was being blamed for widespread injury to crops and 
livestock, and where Leone was serving as a consultant to R. A. Call, who was 
studying fluoride deposition in soft tissues. Leone was also working with Harold 
Hodge and Frank Smith at Rochester, studying the soft tissues of people who had 
died in areas with varying levels of fluoride in water. Much of this work, including 
a summary of Call's work, was brought together in the 1957 Symposium at the 
Kettering Laboratory and published by editor Philip Drinker in the Archives of 
Industrial Health, vol. 21 (1960). See also Public Health Report., no. 8o (1965), pp. 
529 — 538, for an expanded version of Call's report. In regards to the Call study 
(Leone was not 

332 NOTES TO CHAPTER 14 / PP. 183— 185 

publicly listed as an author or "consultant' on the work), George Waldbott noted, "Their 
grants were not renewed, according to Dr. Call's letter to the author, June 22, 1964. 
Therefore, the study of ill-effect of airborne fluoride on kidney disease which their 
research had disclosed was abandoned." G. L. Waldbott, A Struggle with Titans: Forces 
Behind Water Fluoridation (New York: Carleton Press, 1965), p. 251. 

20. The final ruling of the Appeals Court on absolute liability was a victory for 

industry. "This case can no longer be cited for the proposition that in a case of this kind 
absolute liability exists. Thus, the companies filing amicus curiae briefs at least 
succeeded in winning the major point which they argued. This may be of doubtful value 
because of the view taken on proof of negligence but at least we succeeded on this 
point." Legal memo from Frank Seamans, sent to Robert Kehoe, June 13, 1958, File 18, 
Box 64, RAK Collection. 

21. Ibid. 

22. Kehoe to Willard Machle, May 29, 1956, Box 42; and Drinker to Kehoe, July 

8, 1958, File 17, Box 42, RAK Collection. 

Chapter 15 

1. Boscak, 1978. EPA report No. epa-450/3-78-io9. Cited in EPA, "Summary Review of 
Health Effects ... ," EPA/600/8-89/oozF (December 1988), pp. 3-5. It states, regarding 
HF manufacturing plants and additional sources of industrial air exposure, "The figure 
is naturally higher when other fluoride or HF sources are considered." 

2. In 1975, 350,000 men and women in 92 occupations were exposed to fluorides. National 
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1975, DHEW/NIOSH-76-103. Cited in EPA, 
"Summary Review of Health Effects," pp. 3-5. Also, 22, 000 workers were potentially 
exposed to hydrogen fluoride gas alone, in 57 occupations. Criteria For a Recommended 
Standard . . . Occupational Exposure to Hydrogen Fluoride, NIOSH 
DHEW/PUB/NIOSH-76-143, cited pp. 3-5, EPA, "Summary Review of Health Effects." 

3. Kehoe to Derryberry, January 9, 1956, File 18, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

4. "Memorandum Concerning the Objectives of the Investigative Program on the 

Behavior of Fluoride in the Human Body and Concerning the Purposes and Policies of 
the Kettering Laboratory and the University of Cincinnati, in the Prosecution of This 
Investigative Program," Prepared by Robert Kehoe, November 10, 1956. Box 42, RAK 

5. Some 2,845 pounds a day of Reynolds's fluoride had spilled over the Mar-tin ranch as 
hydrofluoric acid gas and also as tiny particles of fluoride dust. Memorandum from 
Frank Seamans summarizing the finding of the Appeals Court en banc, June 12, 1958, 
File 18, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

6. R. Kehoe, "Memorandum on the Present Status and the Future Needs, with Respect to 
Information Deriving from Observation and Investigation of the Behavior of Inorganic 
Compounds of Fluorine in the Animal Organism," February I, 1956, File 5, Box 76, 
RAK Collection. 

7. Ibid. 

NOTES TO C H A P T E R 15 / PP. 186-187 333 

8. Minutes of the meeting of the Fluoride Committee on October 1 , 1956, at 1 . 

00 A M in Room 207, College of Medicine, Folders 18, 19, and 23, Box 63, RAK 

9. Hosted by the Kettering Laboratory, the symposium had been planned ear- 

lier in the year at the May 20 meeting at the Kettering Laboratory, following the 
Martin Appeals Court verdict. It was arranged by Alcoa's Dudley Irwin, Robert 
Kehoe, and the government's Dr. Nicholas Leone as part of their " strategic" 
information plan. 

10. R. A. Kehoe, handwritten notes, "A World of Welcome on Behalf of the 

Kettering Laboratory," 1957 Fluoride Symposium, File 42, Box 17, RAK 

11. For aluminum employees, see amicus curiae brief, Reynolds vs. Martin, p. 


12. Other papers on fluoride safety were given by NIDR officials Nicholas Leone, 
Isadore Zipkin, and Harold McCann. Another study by Richard A. Call on the 
effects of fluoride air pollution on humans was being conducted in Utah. That 
project had been explained by the NIDR's Dr. Leone, who described himself as a 
"consultant" on the project, to Alcoa's Dudley Irwin in a letter of March 5, 1957: 
"As you know, it has been proven beyond a question of a doubt that similar 
conditions have an effect upon animals," wrote Leone. He explained that the Public 
Health Service was financing the human studies " with funds supplied by another 
Bureau." They were being conducted in the laboratories of the Mormon Latter Day 
Saints Hospital in Provo, Utah. Urine levels were being recorded. The bones and 
tissues of individuals who died suddenly were examined. "Inmates of a mental 
institution close by comprise the study material," Leone noted. The study of 
forty-eight autopsied bodies that had experienced sudden death concluded that "no 
histologic abnormities attributable to fluorides were recognized." Nevertheless, 
29.3 percent of the "major causes of death" in the study area were listed as 
"respiratory tract" in origin, compared with just 5.9 percent in the control group. 
Nicholas D. Leone, MD, Chief Medical Investigations NIDR, to Dudley A. Irwin, 
MD, Alcoa Medical Director, March 5, 1957, RAK Collection. 

13. Kehoe to Dudley Irwin, Alcoa, December 4, 1959. "Dear Dudley: The Symposium 
has been accepted for publication by Phil Drinker in the [AMA] Archives [of 
Industrial Health] and it will appear in the April or May number. It will be made 
available in one volume in reprints and, therefore, it is now time to decide how and in 
what numbers we wish to have it assembled. . .. I would suggest that the sponsors be 
polled for the numbers of copies they desire, that this information, together with the 
addresses to which the reprints and the bill for them are to be sent, be forwarded to 
me, so that I can hand all of this, in a complete and orderly manner, to Phil Drinker. 
The sooner this is done the better it will be, I believe, since I would like to be sure 
that the sponsors get just what they want." File 1 7 , Box 42, RAK Collection. (The 
editorial board of the Archives of Industrial Health included DuPont's John Foulger, 
the Mellon Institute's Helmuth Schrenk, the Kettering 

334 NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 / PP. 188-191 

Institute's Frank Princi, and Herbert Stokinger, formerly of the University of Rochester's 
Atomic Energy Project.) The publication of the papers was part of the post-Martin 
strategy drawn up by Kehoe, Alcoa, and Dr. Leone from the NIDR at their planing 
meeting that spring. The collected papers appeared in the Archives of Industrial Health, 
vol. 21 (1960). 

14. Frank Seamans to Robert Kehoe, April 16, 1957, File 17, Box 42, Kettering 


15. William Jolley died of colon cancer in the 197os, the result of what Bingham and 
lolley's family believe was radiation poisoning from his earlier work at the AEC's 
Mound Laboratory in Miamisburg, Ohio. According to a July 15, 2002, author interview 
with Eula Bingham, Davis "had worked up at Mound laboratory, the radiation laboratory 
up in Miamisburg, Ohio, Bill Jolley worked up there also. Bill died of colon cancer in the 
seventies and his family tried to file a lawsuit and they didn't get anything out of it. He 
got out of that job — they came here to the university because they really were worried 
about all the radiation up there." Bingham also believed radiation killed Jolley: "I feel so, 
too," she said. 

16. An earlier draft of the report found in Kehoe's files records the investigators' shock at 
the results, and the discussion section notes that even the control animals had been hurt by 
a small amount of fluoride, to which they had somehow been exposed. "The principal 
findings in the lung were of peri-bronchial fibrosis and scattered granulomatous 
(inflammatory) lesions. . .. The striking enlargement of the tracheal lymph nodes was 
caused by a hyperplastic lymphadenitis. In the lungs there was a strikingly large amount 
of cholesterol, which, at present, has no clear explanation. . . . Some degree of " reaction 
to injury' was encountered even in the lungs of the control dogs which sustained only a 
modest degree of incidental exposure to air borne calcium fluoride." Folders 18-20, Box 
63, RAK Collection. 

17. Albert A. Brust, Director, Toxicology Division, to Dudley Irwin, February to, 196o, 
cc: R. A. Kehoe and R. K. Davis, File 17, Box 42, RAK Collection. 

18. Industry's fear of lawsuits for emphysema damage can be seen in a 1966 symposium at 
the Mellon Institute in which the managing director of the Industrial Hygiene Foundation, 
Robert T. P. deTreville, MD, announced: "The Foundation's interest in emphysema stems 
partly from the concern reflected by its membership that the potential for abuse in the 
awarding of claims for compensation could easily dwarf that for silicosis at its worst." 
Emphysema in Industry, Medical Series Bulletin No. to, Mellon Institute Library. (See 
also Epilogue for discussion of emphysema in industry in 2003.) 

19. Charles McCarthy to Robert Kehoe, July 9, 1962, RAK Collection. 

20. Dr. Arden Pope at the University of Utah recommended Phalen. Pope 
described Phalen as "honest and candid." 

21. Two early influential members of ACGIH were Harold Hodge and Jim Sterner. (Both 
had attended the Conference on Fluoride Metabolism at the Hotel Pennsylvania.) Hodge 
and Sterner were bread-and-butter pragma-tists, in Phalen's opinion, forging compromise 
in the real world of industry 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 / PP. 191-193 335 

smokestacks and worker paychecks. "If I wanted to harm someone's health, I would put 
their breadwinner out of a job," Phalen said. "It has a greater health effect dropping 
someone below the poverty level than becoming a heavy smoker. These people 
realized the critical nature of someone earning a living. They had seen the Depression. 
ACGIH decided it would establish limits that workers could be exposed to and most 
workers, the vast majority, not get ill . . . Harold was of that sort," Phalen added. 

22. "No studies were located regarding respiratory effects in animals following 

inhalation of fluoride." Draft Toxicological Profile for Fluorides 2001 (Department of 
Health and Social Services, Public Health Service, ATSDR). p. 50. 

23. ACGIH's current 2.5 mg/m standard is based on a 1963 paper by Dr. O. M. 

Derryberry of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a member of the Medical Advisory 
Committee that had shaped the original Kettering research program. 

24. "If it is a study that you are saying is very important and clearly has some 

relevance, I think it is unlikely that we would ignore it, so I think that you might assume 
[that we didn't see it] . . . but I can't say that for sure," Bros-sard added. Author 
interview, July 22, 2002. 

25. Of significance is the report by Laura Trupin, an epidemiologist at the Uni- 

versity of California, San Francisco, in the European Respiratory Journal vol. 22, no. 3 
(September 2003), that on-the-job exposure to dust or toxic fumes may cause as many 
as five million cases of a group of deadly lung diseases called chronic obstructive 
pulmonary disease [COPD.] According to USA Today, "this study suggests that 
workplace exposure to pollutants may be a more important cause of the disease than 
previously suspected. The new study found that workplace exposure may cause as 
much as 31 percent of all cases of COPD, which kills more than 100,000 Americans 
each year." USA Today, August 26, 2003, Section D, p. 7. 

26. "Compensation for Illnesses Realized by Department of Energy Workers Due 

to Exposure to Hazardous Materials" — Hearings before Subcommittee on Immigration 
and Claims, September 21, 2000, Serial No. 132, p. 147. 

27. Ibid., p.142. 

28. Harding recalled, "At any time, you could see that haze of smoke and smell a 

strong acrid odor, and you could taste it in your mouth. So you were literally breathing 
and eating uranium-containing gases and dusts and powder all the time." 

29. For "Buchenwald," see J. G. Hamilton, University of California, to Shields 

Warren, DBM, AEC, November 28, 1950 ("Unfortunately, it will not be possible for me 
to be at the meeting on December 8"), Document #DOE-o72694-B-45, p. 1, ACHRE, 
RG 220. 

30. Congressional testimony of Rep. Ed Whitefield of the State of Kentucky. " 

Compensation for Illnesses Realized by Department of Energy Workers Due to 
Exposure to Hazardous Materials," Hearings before Subcommittee on Immigration 
and Claims, September 21, 2000. Serial No. 132, p. 123. 

31. Ibid., pp. 234-235. 

336 | NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 / P. 194 

32. However, as of August 2003, according to an Internet posting from the worker advocacy 
group, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, "DOE has received over 17,000 claims 
requesting assistance with state workers' compensation for occupational illnesses, but as 
of June 25 had processed only 45 claims through its Physicians' Panels for a 
determination, and none of these claims had yet been paid. DOE has advised Congress 
that it expects it will take another 5 years to work through its backlog of claims." 

33- "The Link Between Exposure to Occupational Hazards and Illness in the Department of 
Energy Contractor Workforce" (The National Economic Council, 2000), p. 18. This 
study provided the scientific foundation upon which the legislation was based. At Oak 
Ridge, a K-25 worker, Sam Vest, watched his father sicken with chronic fatigue 
syndrome. He watched an uncle get cancer. Both had worked in the K-25 uranium 
production plant at Oak Ridge, and both died in their fifties and sixties. Today they are 
buried alongside each other in an Oak Ridge cemetery. Vest continued to work at the 
plant during the 1990S. He now has bladder cancer, arthritis, and memory loss, he asserts. 
He was placed on disability in 1998. He describes Oak Ridge as "a tragedy," where 
sickness stalks former workers. "They all have joint and muscular problems, skeletal 
problems, a lot of them have memory problems similar to mine," says Vest. "A lot of 
people have respiratory problems." "Nobody wanted to work in the gaseous diffusion 
buildings," Vest added. "Deep down they knew they were being exposed to very 
hazardous chemicals, the HF and the hexafluoride and all the other things." 

34. Although the legislation and compensation process did not create a special category for 
fluoride injury, fluoride had played a leading role in hurting atomic workers, Congress 
heard. One government-funded study found that 20 percent of former gaseous-diffusion 
employees have chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. Exposure to "hydrofluoric acid 
and other powerful lung irritants in the gaseous diffusion process played a significant 
contributing role," in causing that illness, scientists said. Congressional testimony of 
Steven B. Markowitz, Director of the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, Queens 
College, Flushing, NY, September 21, 2000, "Compensation for Illnesses Realized by 
Department of Energy Workers Due to Exposure to Hazardous Materials" — Hearings 
before Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, September 21, 2000, Serial No. 132, p. 

35. Other investigators, while seemingly aware that hazards exist, are simply unwilling to 
evaluate the risk communities and workers face from fluoride. Arjun Makhijani, director 
of the Institute for Energy and Environment Research and one of the nation's most quoted 
nuclear-health experts, told me that he had "made a decision not to go there" in examining 
fluoride's health effects, choosing instead to focus on the risks from radiation. He 
confirmed that little accounting has yet been made of the health damage fluoride has 
inflicted on nuclear workers. "I don't know how to begin thinking about this question. It is 
a sleeper," Makhijani said. 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 / PP. 194—197 337 

36. Richard Wilson and John Spengler, eds., Particles in Our Air: Concentra- 

tions and Health Effects (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 212. 

37. C. Schneider, Death, Disease, and Dirty Power: Mortality and Health Damage 

Due to Air Pollution from Power Plants (The Clean Air Task Force, October 2000). 'Ihis 
report is a summary of a fuller report done by Abt Associates for the Clean Air campaign. 
On p. 5 it states, "The Abt Associates report further shows that hundreds of thousands of 
Americans suffer from asthma attacks, cardiac problems and upper and lower 
respiratory ailments associated with fine particles from power plants." Lung cancer 
study cited in the New York Times, March 6, 2002, Section A, p. 14, from JAMA study 
of same date. 

38. Children breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults. 

Children make up 40 percent of all asthma cases, while only 25 percent of the total 
population. "Asthma: A Public Health Response" (U.S. CDC), cited in Death, Disease, 
and Dirty Power, p. 9. 

One study found infants in high-pollution areas were 40 percent more likely to die of 
respiratory causes. Another found a 26 percent increase in the risk for sudden infant 
death syndrome. T. J. Woodruff et al., "The Relationship Between Selected Causes of 
Postneonatal Infant Mortality and Particu-late Air Pollution in the United States," 
Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 105, no. 6 (June 1997); cited in Asthma: A 
Public Health Response. U.S. CDC; cited in Death, Disease, and Dirty Power, p. 9. 

39. New York Times, May 12, 2000, p. 32. 

40. EPA Toxic Release Inventory data— 1999 data, updated as of August 1, 2001. 

41. For fluoride synergy, see A. S. Rozhkov and T. A. Mikhailova, The Effect of 

Fluorine-Containing Emissions on Conifers, trans. L. Kashhenko, Siberian Institute of 
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of 
Sciences (Frankfurt: Springer- Verlag, 1993). Part of this text was excerpted on the 
Fluoride Action Network website. See also Stok-inger et al., "The Enhancing Effect of 
the Inhalation of Hydrogen Fluoride Vapor on Beryllium Sulfate Poisoning in Animals," 
UR-68, University of Rochester, unclassified. 

42. Florida: from the late 1940s through the 1960S, multiple lawsuits were launched 

against several fertilizer manufacturers mining the state's rich natural phosphate beds. 
U.S. Senate hearings were prompted when 25,000 acres of citrus land in Polk County 
were damaged and 150,000 acres of pasture abandoned as " fluorides gushed into the 
orange-blossom-scented air.... As cattle ate the grass, they absorbed fluorine into the 
bloodstream. Teeth decayed, joints stiffened, and bones became brittle," the Associated 
Press reported. Local citizens were also injured, according to news reports. According to 
one news account in Florida's Polk and Hillsborough County, "17 plants are clustered 
abound rich deposits of phosphate rock. Fumes from these plants have destroyed 25,000 
acres of citrus trees and damaged vegetation for 50 miles in all directions. Cattle in Polk 
county have suffered from fluoro- 

338 NOTE S TO CHAPTER 15 / P. 


sis and died and people have been afflicted with sore throats and burning eyes and nosebleeds 
and respiratory problems. Millions of dollars in damage suits have been filed against 
phosphate plants." Ned Groth, Pennisula Observer, January 27-February 8, 1969. In 1966 the 
Chemical Manufacturers Association mandated a decrease in airborne fluoride emissions 
from the phosphate industry in Polk County, from 17 tons to 9 tons per day, according to Dr. D. 
R. Hendrickson, professor of Sanitary Engineering, University of Florida. Cited in 
Manufacturing Chemists Association minutes, January 26-28, 1966, CMA Archives, 
Document 085439, Environmental Working Group searchable database. 

Human effects were also claimed by an attorney in Lakeland, Florida, A. R. Carver from 
the firm of Carver and Langston, whose letter to Dr. Robert Kehoe refers to "air pollution 
litigation" on behalf of "A man, his w i f e and two teenage children. They have been living for 
several years in close proximity; that is to say, within a circle, the radius of which extends five 
miles, would include eight producing super triple phosphate plants." May 8, 1956, A. R. 
Carver to Kehoe, RAK Collection. 

A Lakeland resident, Mrs. Harriet Lightfoot, told the AP about the human effects of 
fluoride pollution: "It seemed as she came suddenly awake that a strangler's hands were at her 
throat. Madly she gasped for breath. Her head was pierced by a splitting pain. Her throat and 
eyes burned." Pensacola News-Journal, December 18, 1966. 

See also the account "Death in Our Air," reported in The Saturday Evening Post by Ben H. 
Bagdikian, "Donald McLean, of Polk County, Fla, told a Senate subcommittee that since 
phosphate plants began putting seven tons of fluoride a day into the air he has had to sell his 
cattle and his citrus crops because cattle died, crops that used to mature in 8o days now take 
200, barbed wire that used to last 20 years rots in 4, and he doesn't dare grow vegetables for his 
family for fear they will pick up the same chemicals that fall onto his pastures and groves. "It 
eats up the paint and etches glass, it kills trees, it kills cattle. It is an irritant to mucous 
membrane, and we have sore throats, tears run out of our eyes, we sneeze, we have nosebleeds. 
Gentlemen, am I a fool to assume that that stuff [is] injurious to humans?"' ( Date missing on 

1961, The Dalles, OR: Fairview Farms Inc. received $300,000 from the Harvey 
Aluminum Company's reduction plant because of damage to farmlands and animals. 
Orchardist W. J. Meyer and his wife Mary Ann also received $485,000 for "willful damage" 
to cherry, apricot, and peach crops, according to news accounts. ("Harvey Loses Fluoride 
Case," Hood River (OR) News, October 29, 1970. Cited in G. L. Waldbott et al., Fluoridation: 
The Great Dilemma, p. 298. The company argued that pollution reduction equipment would 
cost $15 million and require loo extra employees. National Fluoridation News (March-April 
1965), p. 3. • 1962, Vancouver, WA: Alcoa paid William Fraser s6o,000 and, in the same 
year, $20,000 to Earl Reeder because of fluoride injury to their cattle on Sau- 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 / P. 197 339 

vies Island. Sauvies Island. Portland (OR) Reporter, June 26, 1962. Cited in 
Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p. 298. 

1962, Contra Costa County, CA: Cattle ranchers in California sued four chemical 
plants for damages to their herds. Ned Groth, Peninsula Observer, January 
27-February 8, 1969. 

Garrison, MT: Human harm from fluoride pollution was alleged after the Rocky 
Mountain phosphate plant opened in 1963, with residents complaining of, among 
other symptoms, heart problems and asthma. Lawsuits for $740,000 were filed. 
"Smog Battle Ends in Montana Town," New York Times, September 17, 1967. Cited 
in Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p. 299. See also New York Times, December 1966: 
"It is charged among other things that fluoride-laden smoke from the phosphate plant 
has caused malformations and deteriorating teeth in cattle and horses, that trees have 
been afflicted by cancerous growths and that people have developed symptoms akin 
to bronchitis, sinus trouble and heart attacks." See also, B. Merson, "The Town That 
Refused to Die," Good Housekeeping, January 1969, lawsuits cited in National 
Fluoridation News, March- April 1965, p. 3. "People were made so ill that many were 
literally driven out of their homes," according to Ned Groth in Peninsula Observer. 
1968: Cominco American Phosphate Company in Douglas Creek was successfully 
sued for $250,000. L. Greenall, "Industrial Fluoride Pollution in British Columbia," 
Canadian Scientific Pollution and Environmental Control Society, Vancouver, 
mimeo, January 1971. Cited in M. Prival and F. Fisher, "Fluorides in the Air," 
Environment, vol. 15, no. 3 (April 1 973), pp. 25-32. 
• Columbia Falls, MT, 1970: Six damage suits for $625,402 were filed on Sept 24 
by residents for alleged fluoride damage caused by the Anaconda Aluminum 
Company and the Anaconda Wire and Cable Co, according to news accounts. A 
week earlier a $21.5 million dollar action was filed against the two companies by 
Dr. and Mrs. Loren Kreck of Columbia Falls, and a suit filed by Mr. and Mrs. 
Harold Dehibom asked $1,650,000 from the same defendants. National 
Fluoridation News (September-October 1970) , p. 4. 

Tennesse, 1970: Reports of $3 million in fluoride claims against Alcoa. " Alcoa 
Sued for Nearly $3 Million," Knoxville (TN) Journal, October 29, 1970, Cited in 
Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p. 298. 

1971: $9 million lawsuit in by the Sierra Club against the Harshaw Chemical 
Company for fluoride pollution, which, the Club charged, had corroded a main 
bridge over the Cuyahoga River. 

Ferndale, WA, 1972: $83,060 judgment by farmer against Intalco 
Aluminum Company in Ferndale, WA. R. Park, "The Italco Trial," Bellingham 
(WA), Northwest Passage March 20-April 2, 1972, cited in Prival and Fisher. 
1980: $150 million lawsuit against Reynolds Metals and Alcoa, alleging fluoride 
injury to cattle on the New York-Canadian St. Regis Reservation, during the 
period of 1960-1975, settled for $6.50,000. Karen St. Hilaire, "St. 

340 NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 I P. 197 

Regis Indians to Settle Fluoride Dispute," Syracuse Post Standard, January 8, 1985, cited in 
Griffiths "Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy?" Covert Action Information Bulletin, no. 
42 (fall 1992), p. 26. 43- Ned Groth, "Capitalist Plot? Air Is Fluoridated," Peninsula Observer, 
January 27-February 3, 1969. Also, Public Law 84-159 of the 84th Congress (1955) 
established the PHS's first air-pollution program. "At the time Public Law 84-159 was 
implemented, fluorides constituted the major industrial pollutant of immediate concern to 
agriculture," in "Six Years of Research in Air Pollution: A review of Grants in aid, Contracts, 
and Direct Operations Sponsored by the Division of Air Pollution, Bureau of State Services. 
July 1, 1 955, to June 3o, 1961." U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. 

44. Agriculture Handbook, No. 38o, published by the Agriculture Research Ser- 

vice of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (1970), cited in E. Jerard and J. B. Patrick, 
"The Summing of Fluoride Exposures" Intern. J. Environmental Studies, vol. 4 (1973), 
pp. 141-155. "Whenever domestic animals exhibited fluorosis, several cases of human 
fluorosis were reported, the symptoms of which were one of more of the following; 
dental mottling, respiratory distress, stiffness in knees or elbows or both, skin lesion, or 
high level of F in teeth and urine. Man is much more sensitive than domestic animals to 
F intoxication," that report added. 

45. Weinstein: "Whereas threshold concentrations for ozone or sulfur dioxide that 

will produce an irreversible effect [upon plants] were found to be generally above 0.05 
ppm for exposure periods of about 7 days, and more than double that concentration and 
time for nitrogen dioxide, gaseous hydrogen fluoride could cause a metabolic or 
physiologic change and produce lesions on leaves of the most sensitive species at o.OOi 
ppm (i ppb v/v, or o.8 Mg HF ID 1 ) or less for similar durations of exposure. Only 
peroxyacetylnitrate, a constituent of photochemical smog, can rival this extreme 

Does fluoride have a role in acid rain? Weinstein, in this report in 1982, wrote, 
"Even less is known of effects of fluoride on soil structure and chemistry, micro- and 
macro flora, and on fluoride availability to the plant. Increased acidity in precipitation 
has heightened interest in these subjects" (p. 53). Also, "There are huge gaps in our 
knowledge with respect to effects on insects and other anthropods, soil microorganisms 
and aquatic flora and fauna" (p. 56). Weinstein's comments were made at an 
industry-funded conference of fluoride lawyers, government dentists, and former 
bomb-program scientists, held at Utah State University in 1982. L. H. Weinstein, " 
Effects of Fluorides on Plants and Plant Communities: An Overview," in J. L. Shupe, H. 
B. Peterson, and N. C. Leone, eds., Fluorides: Effects on Vegetation, Animals and 
Humans (Salt Lake City, UT: Paragon Press, 1983), p. 54. Attending this conference 
were Frank Seamans, Nicholas Leone, Harold Hodge, Frank Smith, David Scott (a 
former director of the National Institute of Dental Research), and B. D. Dinman, the 
vice president of health and safety for Alcoa. (Harold Hodge, Nicholas Leone, and 
fluoride lawyers 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 15 / PP. 197-198 341 

Frank Seamans and Keith Taylor organized that industry-funded conference, the 
book states.) 

46. In 1966 Morris Katz, professor of atmospheric sanitation, explained at a 

Canadian National Conference on Pollution and Our Environment why 
atmospheric fluoride levels are measured in parts per billion, although maximum 
permissible levels for most atmospheric contaminants are calculated in parts per 
million. "Prolonged exposure to ambient air with concentrations of less than 1 part 
per thousand million part of air by volume may create a hazard. ... In this respect 
fluorides are more than one-hundred times more toxic than sulfur dioxide." Elise 
Jerard and J. B. Patrick, " The Summing of Fluoride Exposures," Intern. J. 
Environmental Studies, vol. 4 ( 1973), pp. 141-155; citation from p. 143. Also see, 
cited in Jerard, a report in Environmental Science and Technology (August 1970) 
that states fluoride " compared to other pollutants is toxic at much lower 
concentration (0.5 ppb) and also acts as a cumulative poison. . . . Aside from the 
injury to vegetation there is a potential danger to animals and even human beings 
feeding on plants high in fluoride content." 

47. According to historian Lynn Snyder, the U.S. military had designed the 

National Air Sampling Network. The network had, for example, measured protein 
in air as a marker for the presence of biological weapons. L. P. Sny-der, The 
Death-Dealing Smog, p. 58, n. 50. According to Groth, fluoride had been one of 
the chemicals initially reported. After pressure from New York Congressman 
Richard L. Ottinger, national monitoring of fluoride pollution was reinitiated in 
1968. See Groth, "Capitalist Plot? Air Is Fluoridated." 

48. Summary Review of Health Effects Associated with Hydrogen Fluoride and 

Related Compounds," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, December 1988, 
pp. 2-9. 

49. Globally that figure was an estimated 3.6 million tons in 1972. Ibid., Section 

3, P. 2. 

50. "Despite the fact that the further litigation which was anticipated with appre- 

hension some years ago has failed to appear, the industries are vulnerable in the 
field of occupational disease hazard and in the field of community health relating to 
air pollution." Robert Kehoe to Reynolds's medical director, James MacMillan, 
September 20,1961, cc: Frank Seamans, Box 63, RAK Collection. 

51. See Taylor in Fluorides: Effects on Vegetation, Animals, and Humans, p. 359. 

52. The six criteria pollutants were sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocar- 

bons, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate matter. (Lead was added in 1978.) 
Air pollutants were listed as hazardous by EPA according to whether those 
emissions, "can be expected to result in an increase in mortality or irreversible 
illness," according to an EPA official, D. F. Walters. In 1977 the U.S. Forestry 
Service asked EPA to fix a national ambient air quality standard (AAQS) for 
fluoride, to control fluoride damage in Montana. According to Walters, "EPA's 
reevaluation concluded that though there may be a number of local problems with 
fluoride damage to sensitive species around 


industrial sources, the problem was not of a sufficiently national character to require a 
NAAQS. [National Ambient Air Quality Standard]." Also, for " permissive": "States 
may apply less stringent standards to sources when economic factors or physical 
limitations specific to those sources make less stringent standards significantly more 
reasonable," Walters added. D. F. Walters, "Regulatory, Economic, and Legal Aspects 
of Fluoride" in Fluorides: Effects on Vegetation, Animals, and Humans, pp. 351-358. 

53. For D. F. Walters, see ibid. Perhaps a telling illustration of how fluoride has been 
"disappeared" or whitewashed as an air pollutant can be seen in the discussion 
surrounding the important study by Pope of the health improvement in local citizens 
following the temporary shuttering in the 198os of the U.S. Steel mill in Provo, Utah. 
Although that plant was sued in the 19505 for some $30 million for fluoride pollution, 
by the time of the Pope study that history had so faded that there was little or no 
discussion of fluoride's role in the pollution-related health effects proved by the Pope 
study. C. A. Pope, " Respiratory Disease Associated with Community Air Pollution and 
a Steel Mill, Utah Valley," Am. J. Public Health, vol. 79 (May 1989), pp. 623-628. 

54- The EPA concluded, "Fluoride pollutants were highly located in the vicinity of major 
point sources, in contrast to the other criteria pollutants which were more pervasive and 
widespread." See Walters, p. 351. 

55' Reynolds had just concluded the Martin trial and was commissioning fresh studies at 
Kettering. But according to EPA official D. F. Walters, instead of instituting strict 
emission controls, it was not until the 197os — a full decade after the plant was 
opened — that pressure from Canadian officials and lawsuits from farmers forced 
Reynolds to begin to install air-pollution control equipment. Ibid, Walters, p. 353. 

56. J. Raloff, "The St. Regis Syndrome," Science News, vol. 118 (July 19, 1980), 

p. 42. 

57. B. Carnow and S. A. Conibear, "Airborne Fluorides and Human Health, 

Report to the St. Regis Band on the Implications of Airborne Fluoride Contamination 
of Cornwall Island for the Health of its People," January 1978. 

58. The transborder International Joint Commission, the U.S. Department of 

State, the Canadian Department of External Affairs, Canadian Department of the 
Environment, New York State, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment were 
variously involved in addressing the dispute. See Walters, p. 353. 

59. Curiously, in 1980 and 1981 the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Selikoff received 
two awards totaling $446,975 from the National Institute of Dental Research to study 
"Long-term, low-level exposure to environmental agents (human)." See NIH CRISP 
awards, Project #5P30ES00928-08 and ... 928-09. 

60. "The increase noted in cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity/mortality 

rates in the older population (and females in particular) of the entire Band indicates a 
possible adverse effect from environmental exposure." Also: "The early infant mortality 
appears significant. Moreover, the higher number of hospital admissions . . . due to 
disease of the joints and connective tissue 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 16 / PP. 2 1 - 2 9 343 

could be related to fluorine effect." I. J. Selikoff, E. C. Hammond, and S. M. Levin, 
"Environmental Contaminants and the Health of the People of the St. Regis Reserve," 
Fluoride: Medical Survey Findings (Environmental Sciences Laboratory, Mount Sinai School 
of Medicine of the City University of New York), vol. 1, pp. 342-343. 61. "Should notable 
correlations between fluoride exposure and adverse health effects be found in Selikoff's 
epidemiological study of Cornwall Island residents, major changes in the way EPA looks at 
fluoride could result, including its reclassification as hazardous," Science News, vol. 118 
(July 19, 1980), p. 43. 

Chapter i6 

1. The attorneys for the workers, Bruce McMath and Steve Napper of Little Rock, 
Arkansas, had signed up a hundred of these clients, known as the Beaty cases, for a 
claim against Reynolds to be mounted following the first Bareis trial, which is 
described in the following pages. The former group, which included Alan Williams 
and Jerry Jones (interviewed here), had been part of a team that developed a 
chemical process to dispose of the by-product waste of aluminum smelting. (The 
waste is called treated spent potliner and is described in the chapter.) 

2. Author interview with EPA's Steve Silverman, June 18, 2002. 

3. Arkansas Business, January 12, 1998, p. 23. 

4. The old Reynolds Troutdale plant, which had injured the Martins, was des- 

ignated a Superfund site, for example. 

5. In the months after the Benton trial, Alan Williams would have open-heart 

and back surgery and lose most of his body hair. 

6. Author interview, June 24, 2002. 

7. A Reynolds memo as read in deposition states, "Alcoa expressed some concern 
that the actual soluble fluoride content in the kiln discharge is actually more than 
revealed — more than revealed by the TCLP. We are aware of this, but TCLP is the 
procedure used." Plaintiffs exhibit 173, in George Bareis, et al. vs. Reynolds Metals, 
Saline County Court, Case 97-703-2. 

8. In December 1997 the EPA finally reversed course and reclassified the " treated" 
chemical waste as toxic. It was the first time the agency had taken back a delisting, 
said Peace. It was far too late, however, for Scotty and Dianne Peebles and the 
several hundred Hurricane Creek workers who had been breathing and handling 
the fluoride waste for years. And it was too late for the local environment, where 
thousands of tons of toxic waste had been buried in two mighty landfills. 
Eventually nearly 225,000 tons of treated potliner waste would be dumped in 
unlined pits at the Hurricane Creek site, according to the Associated Press, 
December, 2 1997. 

9. Following the redesignation in December 1997 of the treated potliner as a 
hazardous material, new safety and disposal criteria were instituted. 

10. The verdict, OSHRC Docket No. 98-0057, was voided on December 14, 2001 on 
jurisdiction grounds. 

344 NOTES TO CHAPTER 16 / PP. 210—217 

u. Kehoe to James MacMillan, medical director, Reynolds Metals, September 20, 1961, 
Box 63, RAK Collection. 

12. Nevertheless, as Mullenix described the beagle study to the jury on October 20, 2000, 
McMath attempted to sneak in some history and context. Hadn't the Reynolds study been 
done in the 195os, he asked Mullenix, "in connection with some litigation they had going 
at that time?" Johnson was ready. " Your Honor, objection," he exclaimed. "We ruled on 
this in chambers, didn't we?" McMath retreated. "I'll withdraw the question," he 

13. In the end it seems that McMath's hunch about the jury was correct. Polled after the 
trial, a majority sided with Reynolds. The Benton claimants were simply looking for 
easy money, according to juror Marilyn Schick. "It was a situation where [workers] 
were exposed to a lot of dust, but as far as the ALROC [the name Reynolds had given to 
the treated spent potliner] being toxic to them, I just wasn't convinced that it was," she 
told me. 

But there were some jurors who did lean in favor of the workers against Reynolds. "It 
was a big company not caring about some low-class workers," said juror Sue Magness. 
"So what if it cost them some health problems — they had to get the job done." She blames 
the "excellent" Reynolds lawyers for portraying the plaintiffs as "sorry" drunks and drug 
addicts. "They weren't looking at them as people. They were looking at them as just 
bringing this lawsuit to get a buck. They didn't strike me that way," she added, about the 
workers. Magness had wanted a chance to talk with the other jurors and maybe influence 
them to rule in favor of the workers, she said. "I can be pretty persuasive. Sometimes 
people don't pick up on things, and when you bring it up in a jury room and they get to 
thinking about it, they change their minds," she said. 

Chapter 17 

1. "No deleterious systemic effects have occurred," he added. HR 2341 "A Bill to 

Protect the Public Health From the Dangers of Fluorination of Water," Hearings Before 
the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, 83rd 
Congress, May 25-27, 1954, p. 470. 

2. Philip R. N. Sutton, Fluoridation: Errors and Omissions in Experimental Trials 
(Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1959); "United Kingdom Mission Report 
(1953): The Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies in North America as a Means of 
Controlling Dental Caries" (London: Her Majesty's Stationary Office); World Health 
Organization (1958) Expert Committee on Water Fluoridation, First Report, Technical 
Report Series No. 146 (Geneva: World Health Organization); New Zealand Commission 
of Inquiry, "The Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies" (Wellington: Government Printer, 
1 957). 

3. "I accept the whole of the evidence given by Professors Hodge [and others]," Justice 
Kenny wrote in his ruling verdict, which had the effect of imposing fluoridation on 
Ireland's entire population, a situation that remains to this day. M. Stanley, "Fluoridation 
of Public Water Supplies in Ireland," New 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 17 /PP. 218— 219 345 

Jersey State Dental Soc, vol. 37 (1966), p. 242, cited in Frank McClure, Water 
Fluoridation: The Search and the Victory (NIDR, 1970), p. 275. 

4. J. V. Kumar and P. A. Swango, Community Dent. Oral Epidemiol, vol. 27, no. 3 
(June 1999), pp. 171-180, L. L. Lininger, G. S. Leske, E. L. Green, and V. B. Haley, 
"Changes in dental fluorosis and dental caries in Newburgh and Kingston, New 
York," Am. J. Public Health, vol. 88, no. 12 (December 1998), pp. 1866-187o. 

5. Boston Globe, November 11, 1999; "Cincinnati's dental crisis," Cincinnati 

Enquirer October 6, 2002; Washington Post, March 5, 2002; and J. Kozol, 
Savage Inequalities (New York: HarperPerennial, 1991). 

6. J. A. Lalumandier and R. G. Rozier, Pediatric Dentistry (January- 
February 1995), pp. 19-25, cited in Medical Abstracts Newsletter, July 1995, p. 
28. Also, the University of York's fluoridation review found that up to 48 
percent of children in fluoridated areas in the United Kingdom had some 
form of fluorosis. M. McDonagh, et al. "A Systemic Review of Public Water 
Fluoridation," NHS Center for Reviews and Dissemination, 2000, 
Executive Summary, p. 3. 

7. M. Teotia, S. P. Teotia, and K. P. Singh, "Endemic chronic fluoride toxicity 
and dietary calcium deficiency interaction syndromes of metabolic bone 
disease and deformities in India: year 2000," Indian JPediatr., vol. 65, no. 3 ( 
May-June 1998), pp. 371-381. 

8. The Australian scientist Mark Diesendorf writes that "infants who are bottle fed 
with milk formula reconstituted with fluoridated water . . . receive loo times the daily 
fluoride dose of breast-fed babies and at least 4-6 times that recommended by medial 
authorities for fluoride supplementation in unfluoridated areas." M. Diesendorf and 
A. Diesendorf, "Suppression by Medical Journals of a Warning About Overdosing 
Formula-Fed Infants with Fluoride," Accountability in Research, vol. 5 (1997), pp. 
225-237. Also, the chicken in infant food can reach 8.38 micrograms per gram. J. R. 
Heil-man et al., "Fluoride Concentrations in Infant Food," DADA (July 1997), p. 
857. ( Mechanically boned meat can include higher fluoride content. Fluoride 
concentrates in bone, therefore when some of that bone is found in the " boned" meat, 
the fluoride content can rise.) 

9. The American fluoride researcher H. V. Smith, who codiscovered the fact that 
fluoride caused dental mottling, wrote, "Mottling, no matter how mild, is an 
external sign of internal distress," Letter from H. V. Smith to George Waldbott, 
June 1 , 1964, cited in Waldbott, A Struggle with Titans, p. 65. 

to. Christa Danielson, MD, Joseph L. Lyon, MD, et al., "Hip Fractures and 

Fluoridation in Utah's Elderly Population," JAMA, vol. 268, no. 6 (August 

12, 1992), p. 746. u. For hip fracture rate, see U.S. National Research Council, Diet 

and Health ( 

Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1989), p. 121. For arthritis data, 
see Newsweek, September 3, 2001, pp. 39-46. 

346 NOTES TO C H A P T E R 17 / PP. 219—223 

12. See, for example, Y Li et al., "Effect of Long-Term Exposure to Fluoride in 

Drinking Water on Risks of Bone Fractures," J. Bone and Mineral Research, vol. 16 
(2001), no. 5, pp. 932-939. 

13. M. T. Alarcon-Herrera et al., "Well Water Fluoride, Dental Fluorosis, Bone 

Fractures in the Guadiana Valley of Mexico," Fluoride, vol. 34, no. 2 (2001), PP. 

14. One published account, quoting data from the U.S. National Center for 

Health Statistics, reported that bone fractures in male children and adolescents may be 
increasing. Joel Griffiths, "Fluoride: Commie Plot or Capitalist Ploy?" Covert Action 
Information Bulletin, no. 42 (fall 1992), p. 65. 

15. Fluoridation Facts (published since 1956 by the American Dental Associa- 

tion). Paul R. Thomas, program officer at the Food and Nutrition Board of the National 
Academy of Sciences wrote in a March 18, 1991, letter to Dar-lene Sherrell, "The 
statement you quote from the ADA pamphlet on water fluoridation — "The Academy 
found that the daily intake required to produce symptoms of chronic toxicity ... is 20 to 
8o milligrams or more . . . ' may be misleading." It was an easy lie to perpetuate, 
however. For example, even the "Recommended Daily Allowances for Fluoride" 
published in 1989 by the National Academy of Sciences, stated that "chronic toxicity ... 
occurs after years of daily exposures of 20 to 8o mg of fluorine, far in excess of the 
average intake in the United States." That, too, was hugely disingenuous, conveying the 
impression that toxicity was found only at this elevated threshold. 

16. H. C. Hodge, "The Safety of Fluoride Tablets or Drops," in Continuing Evalu- 

ation of the Use of Fluorides, eds. E. Johansen, D. R. Taves, and T. O. Olsen, AAAS 
Selected Symposium (Westview Press, 1979), p. 255. 

17. Review of Fluoride Benefits and Risks (Public Health Service, Department of 

Health and Human Services, 1991), p. 45. 

18. National Research Council, Health Effects of Ingested Fluoride (Washington, 

DC: National Academy Press, 1993), p. 59. 

19. South Carolina was suing the EPA, objecting to the federal requirement to 

remove fluoride in water supplies that exceeded the threshold. 

20. Presented in part as the David Murray-Cowie Memorial Lecture, University 

of Michigan, Ann Arbor, October 12, 1951. Published in full in S.Z. Levine, ed., 
Advances in Pediatrics (New York: Interscience Publishers, 1955), pp. 13-51. 

21. Safe Drinking Water Committee, Drinking Water and Health (National 

Research Council, NAS, 1977), p. 389. 

22. National Toxicology Program (NTP) (1990), Toxicology and Carcinogenesis 

Studies of Sodium Fluoride in F344/NRats and B6C3fi Mice (Technical report Series 
No. 393, NIH Publ. No 91-2848, National Institute of Environmental Health Studies, 
Research Triangle Park, NC). 

23. W. Marcus, "Fluoride Conference to Review the NTP Draft Fluoride Report," 

Memorandum dated May I, 1990, from Wm. L. Marcus, senior science adviser, Office 
of Drinking Water (ODW), U.S. EPA, to Alan B. Hais, acting direc- 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 17 / P. 223 347 

tor, Criteria & Standards Division, ODW, U.S. EPA. See also: "Such a trend 
associated with the occurrence of a rare tumor in the tissue in which fluoride is 
known to accumulate cannot be causally dismissed," Environmental Health Criteria, 
no. 227 (WHO 2002), p. 169. 

24. The Lancet, vol. 336, no. 8717 (September 22,1990), U.S. Department of 

Labor, Case # 92-TSC-5, Recommended Decision and Order, p. 27. 

25. There has been a great deal of information associating fluoride with cancer. 
Cancer has been experimentally linked to fluoride since the early 1950s, 
when Alfred Taylor at the University of Texas in Austin found that cancer- 
prone mice drinking water containing 1 ppm NaF, and eating food with a 
negligible fraction of fluoride, developed mammary tumors at an earlier age 
than similar mice fed nonfluoridated water. A. Taylor, "Sodium Fluoride in 
the Drinking Water of Mice," Dental Digest, vol. 6o (1954), pp. 170-172. Cited 
in Waldbott et al„ Fluoridation: The Great Dilemma (Lawrence, KS: 
Coronado Press, 1978), p. 223. 

For cancer in fluoride workers and around fluoride industrial plants, see A. J. 
deVilliers and J. P. Windish, "Lung Cancer in a Fluorspar Mining Community. 
Radiation, Dust, and Mortality Experience," Br. J. Ind. Med., vol. 21 (1964), pp. 
94-109; N. N. Litvinov, M. S. Goldberg, and S. N. Kimina, " Morbidity and 
Mortality in Man Caused by Pulmonary Cancer and Its Relation to the Pollution of 
the Atmosphere in the Areas of Aluminum Plants," Acta Unio Int. Contra Cancrum, 
vol. 19 (1963), pp. 74z-645, V. A. Celilioni, " Lung Cancer in a Steel City [Hamilton, 
Ontario]: Its Possible Relation to Fluoride Emission," Fluoride, vol. 5 (1972), pp. 
172-181, cited in Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p, 236. 

The late John Yiamouyiannis — a biochemist and antifluoride activist, and a 
retired National Cancer Institute biochemist, Dean Burke, reported more cancer in 
fluoridated communities in the United States. J. Yiamouyi-annis and D. Burk, 
"Fluoridation and Cancer: Age-Dependence of Cancer Mortality Related to 
Artificial Fluoridation," Fluoride, vol. 10 (1977), pp. 102-123. And J. 
Yiamouyiannis, "Fluoridation and Cancer: The Biology and Epidemiology of Bone 
and Oral Cancer Related to Fluoridation," Fluoride, vol. 26 (1993), pp. 83-96. 

For bone cancer and fluoridated water, see A. Takahashi, K. Akiniwa, and K. 
Narita, "Regression Analysis of Cancer Incidence Rates and Water Fluoride in the 
U.S.A. based on IACR/IARC (WHO) data (1978-1992)," J. Epidemiol., vol. If, no. 
4 (July 2001), pp. 170-179, abstracted in Fluoride, vol. 34, no. 3 (May 2001). In this 
study the researchers found that "cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx, colon and 
rectum, hepato-biliary and urinary organs were positively associated with FD 
[fluoridation of drinking water]. This was also the case for bone cancers in males, in 
line with results of rat experiments." 

In 1991 the National Cancer Institute found that the occurrence of osteo-sarcoma 
in young males was, in fact, significantly higher in fluoridated versus unfluoridated 
communities. However, the researchers concluded that the 

348 NOTES TO CHAPTER 17 I PP. 223—224 

increased was unrelated to water fluoridation. According to the U.S. Public Health 
Service, "Although the increase in rates of osteosarcoma for males during this period 
was greater in fluoridated than nonfluoridated areas, extensive analyses revealed that 
these patterns were unrelated to either the introduction or duration of fluoridation." R. N. 
Hoover, S. Devesa, K. Cantor, and J. F. Fraumeni Jr., "Time Trends for Bone and Joint 
Cancers and Osteosarcomas in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results" 
( SEER) Program, National Cancer Institute," in Review of Fluoride: Benefits and Risks, 
Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Fluoride of the Committee to Coordinate 
Environmental Health and Related Programs (U.S. Public Health Service, 1991), pp. F 
1-177. Despite those assurances, similar increases in bone cancer in young men were 
also found in New Jersey in a 1992 study. In that report, between the years 1970 and 
1989 the rate of osteosarcoma ( among ten- to nineteen-year-old males) was found to be 
3.5 to 6.3 times greater in the fluoridated areas versus the unfluoridated ones. P. D. Conn, 
An Epidemiologic Report on Drinking Water and Fluoridation (Trenton, NJ: New 
Jersey Department of Health, 1992). The latter two references are cited on the Fluoride 
Action Network webpage. 

26. Interview with Paul Connett, May 1998. This taped interview can be 

obtained from GG Video, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. 

27. The researchers reported that fluoridated drinking water helped to carry 

aluminum to the brain in experimental rats, producing "irregular mincing steps 
characteristic of senile animals." Autopsies revealed brain damage. The data are "the 
latest of several studies hinting at some link between aluminum in the environment and 
Alzheimer's," according to the Wall Street Journal, October 28, 1992, section B, p. 6. 

Also, J. A. Varner, C. Huie, W. Horvath, K. F. Jensen, R. L. Issacson, " Chronic 
A1F3 Administration: II. Selected Histological Observations," Neuroscience Research 
Communications, vol. 13, no. 2 (1993), pp. 99-104. R. L. Isaacson, J. A. Varner, and K. 
F. Jensen, "Toxin-Induced Blood Vessel Inclusions Caused by the Chronic 
Administration of Aluminum and Sodium Fluoride and Their Implications for 
Dementia," Neuroprotective Agents. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, no. 
825 (1997), pp. 152-166, J. A. Varner, K. F. Jensen, W. Horvath, R. L. Isaacson, 
"Chronic Administration of Aluminum-Fluoride or Sodium-Fluoride to Rats in 
Drinking Water: Alterations in Neuronal and Cerebrovascular Integrity," Brain 
Research, no. 784 (1998), pp. 284-298. 

28. Fluoride, the Pineal Gland, and Melatonin: An Interview with and Presenta- 

tion by Dr. Jennifer Luke. Videotape, length: 40 minutes. Available from GGVideo, 82 
Judson Street, Canton, NY. GGVideo [Grassroots and Global Video] (1999). 

29. The Newburgh Times, January 27, 1954: "The 283 heart deaths in Newburgh 

in the year were equal to a rate of 882 deaths per loo.OOO population. This was more than 
the rate for the nation as a whole, 507 per loo,000. It was also higher than the Middle 
Atlantic States, 590 heart deaths per ioo,000." 

NOTES TO CHAPTER 17 / PP. 224—226 349 

30. For Michigan, see T. L. Hagen, M. Pasternack, and G. C. Scholz, "Water-borne 

Fluorides and Mortality," Public Health Rep., vol. 69 (1954), pp. 450-454, cited in 
Waldbott et al., Fluoridation, p. 158; see also p. 16o. For fluoride's effect on 
chicken embryo hearts, see also, J. D. Ebert, "The First Heartbeats," Scientific 
American, vol. 56 (1959), pp. 4-7: "At low concentrations [fluoride] primarily 
affects the heart. ... At any given stage of development ... the locations of the cells 
destroyed by fluoride coincide with the sites that have the greatest capacity to form 
heart muscle, and with the areas that have the greatest capacity for the synthesis of 
actin and myosin." 

31. T. G. Reeves, Water Fluoridation: A Manual for Engineers and Technicians ( 

U.S. Public Health Service, CDC Division of Oral Health, 1986) and Water 
Fluoridation; A Manual for Water Plant Operators (U.S. Public Health Service, 
CDC Division of Oral Health, April 1994), cited in M. Coplan and R. D. Masters, 
"Why Have U.S. Health Agencies Refused to Test Silicofluorides for Health 
Safety?" (unpublished, 2001), via authors. 

32. For risk of cancer at the trace levels (up to 1.6 parts per billion) of arsenic 

found in water that is fluoridated by silicofluoride, see Arsenic in Drinking Water: 
2001 Update (National Academies Press, 2001). See discussion on p. 7 in 
Summary, of linear nature of toxic effects at low doses. For lead, see R. D. Masters, 
M. J. Coplan, B. T. Hone, J. E. Dykes, "Association of Silicofluoride Treated 
Water with Elevated Blood Lead," Neurotoxicology, vol. 21, no. 6 ( December 
2000), pp. 1091-1100. See also Chairman, Subcommittee on Energy and 
Environment, Cong. Ken Calvert (R-CA), May 8, 2000, letter to Carol M. 
Browner, EPA administrator. 

33. Almost no fluorspar is mined domestically. Of a reported 2001 consumption 

of 536,000 tons of fluorspar, 353,000 tons were imported from China. U.S. 
Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbook (2001). 

34. Only a tiny fraction of the recovered silicofluoride waste is now converted for 

use as industrial fluoride-4,7oo tons, for A1F3, for aluminum smelting. U.S. 
Geological Survey, Minerals Yearbook (2001). (The fluosilicic acid recovered 
from the phosphate industry must first be converted into fluorspar, or aluminum 
fluoride, before being reused by industry.) But the potential of the Sunshine State as 
a source of industrial fluoride remains. In 2001 65,200 tons of fluosilicic acid were 
recovered from the phosphate industry. That's one-fifth of the nation's potential 
industrial fluoride needs, according the U. S. Geological Survey. 


36. University of Rochester, Progress Report for October, 1944-Abstracts, Dr. 

Harold Hodge, p. 478. "The results indicated that the inhibition of esterase activity 
produced by T [code for uranium] was small compared with that by C-216 [code 
for fluorine]. Thus 0.025 ppm C-216 [code for fluorine] caused the same 
percentage inhibition of esterase activity as loo ppm T [code for uranium] (33 
percent). From these results it is concluded that in a mixture of T and C-216 in 
which the amount (by weight) of T is not more than 50-fold that of C-216 the 
effect of the T upon the activity of liver esterase can 

350 NOTES TO CHAPTER 17 / PP. 226—232 

be neglected." Also: "The useful range of this curve for determining C-216 
concentrations was from O-0.5 ppm, C-216." Document #S09F01B227, ACHRE, RG 

37. Twenty-fifth ISFR Conference Abstracts, Fluoride, vol. 35, no. 4 (2002), p. 


38. A Century of Public Health: From Fluoridation to Food Safety (CDC, 

Division of Media Relations, April 2, 1999). 


1. PFCs are "organic" chemicals, which means that they are based on carbon. In a PFC 
chemical, the fluorine atom is joined to the carbon molecule with a much stronger 
"covalent" bond, rather than the weak "ionic" bond in fluorides. 

2. In September 2000 EPA officials met with a lobbying group known as the 
Fluoropolymer Manufacturers Group, composed of DuPont and Dow Chemical, plus the 
giant European and Japanese chemical manufacturers Elf Atofina and Asahi Glass 
Fluoropolymers. The industry representatives impressed upon the EPA the importance of 
PFOA chemicals in scores of vital commercial products, upon which industries worth an 
estimated $25 billion depended, from aerospace to automobiles to medical devices, 
according to records of that meeting. Despite "repeated attempts," industry declared, there 
had been "no success" in finding alternatives. 

3. T. Midgley Jr. and A. L. Henne, Ind. Eng. Chem. vol. 22 (1930), p. 542. On December 
31, 1928, General Motors' Frigidaire Division was issued the first patent for CFCs: 
US#1,886,339. A new company called Kinetic Chemicals, owned by DuPont and General 
Motors, was incorporated on August 1, 1930. By 1935, 8 million new refrigerators had 
been sold in the United States, filled with DuPont's patented "Freon" CFC gas. Global 
CFC production continued to soar; it increased from 150,000 tons in 1960 to 800,000 tons 
in 1974. 

4. The secret PFC called "Joe's Stuff" that was delivered to Columbia University in 
December 1940 was named after Professor Joseph Simons from Penn State University. 
Simons invented a process known as "electro-chemical fluorination" which used 
electricity to replace the hydrogen with fluoride in hydrogen-carbon bonds, producing 
fluorocarbons. After the war the technology would be licensed to the 3M corporation, 
who would use it to make, among other things, the fabric protector Scotchgard. J. H. 
Simons, ed., Fluorine Chemistry, vol. 1 (New York: Academic Press, 1950), p. 423. T. 
Abe, "Electrochemical fluoridation as a locomotive for the development of fluorine 
chemistry at NIRIN, Nagoya," and John Colin Tatlow, "Fluorine Chemistry at the 
University of Birmingham: A Cradle of the Subject in the UK" in Fascinated by Fluorine 
(Amsterdam and New York: Elsevier, 2000), pp. 273 and 476. H. Goldwhite, J. Fluorine 
Chem., vol. 33, p. 113. Industrial and Engineering Chem. vol. 39, no. 3 (March 1947), p. 

5. Colborn has since learned that some organofluorines are "really nasty" 

endocrine disrupters, she told me in an e-mail. 


"It would be desirable," Col. Stafford Warren told Dr. John Foulger in a letter dated 
August 12, 1944, "to have the work on the toxicity of fluorocar-bons being done in 
your laboratory parallel the investigations being made on similar compounds 
elsewhere. For that reason it would be appreciated if Dr. Harold Hodge of the 
University of Rochester could visit your laboratory in the near future and an 
exchange of ideas be effected.... The Medical Section has been charged with the 
responsibility of obtaining toxicological data which will insure the District's being in 
a favorable position in case litigation develops from exposure to the materials." 
Warren to Dr. John Foulger, Box 25, Accession #7202386, Atlanta FRC, RG 326. 
In a document titled "Research Plans for the Division of Pharmacology 1946-47," a 
subsection, "Industrial Hygiene," lists item "k" as "Investigation of the Nature of 
Fluoride in Blood." Fluoride exists in blood in "an organic and an inorganic state," 
while "organic fluorine compounds appear to be more toxic than the fluoride ion," 
the research summary noted. The Rochester team now planned "to investigate the 
nature of the compounds of fluorine existing in the blood, devoting special attention 
to the so-called organic fraction." Additional questions the bomb program 
researchers wanted answered were as follows: 

• An investigation of the possible relations between fluorides, 
iodide and calcium levels and the thyroid gland. 

The effect of fluorine upon enzyme systems of the blood, particularly by 
means of an in vivo experiment. 

The relation between fluorine and non-diffusable (protein bound) 
blood calcium. 

How high can the blood fluoride level be raised before ill effects are 
raised in animals. 

The document concluded: "These experiments are intended to give fundamental 

information regarding the mode of action and metabolism of fluorine in the system. 

The information would appear to be of value for the following reasons.... Exposure 

to fluoride is of industrial significance, particularly since the advent of atomic 

energy programs," and that, "the determination of base levels is of immediate 

practical value in the impending litigation between the DuPont Co. and residents of 

New Jersey areas." DOE's HREX search engine, found at 0712317, document 

numbers 1075992, 1076012, 1076013. Where are the results of these experiments? 
DuPont bulletin No. X-59a. 


'Two tvoes of reaction have been noted in humans as the result of acciden 8. 
tal inhalation of the products of heated polymer. 1) a condition similar to metal 
fever; and 2) a condition in which there may be an irritation of the lungs leading to 
pulmonary edema." DuPont bulletin No. X-59a. DuPont conducted human 
experiments giving volunteers Teflon-laced cigarettes to investigate fume fever. J. 
W. Clayton, "Fluorocarbon Toxicity and Biological Action," Fluorine Chem. 
Reviews, vol. 1, no. 2 (1967), pp. 197-252. 


9. Harold D. Field to the Kettering Laboratory, January 23, 1958. Albert 
Henne to Robert Kehoe, October 15, 1958. "Teflon Coated Cooking 
Utensils," File 12, Box 15, RAK Collection. In the early 19305 Henne, a 
Belgian immigrant, had invented a manufacturing process for the first CFC 
Freon gas. He had also done fluoride work for the Manhattan Project. 

10. Nature, vol. 217 (March 16, 1968), pp. 1050-1051. 

11. "Little has been published about the metabolic handling and toxicology of perfluorinated 
fatty acid derivatives. Computer assisted literature searches using Medline, Toxline and 
Chemcon developed no information on these subjects." W. S. Guy, D. R. Taves, and W. S. 
Brey, "Organic Fluorocompounds in Human Plasma," Biochemistry Involving 
Carbon-Fluorine Bonds (American Chemical Society, 1976), p. 132. 

On the subject of collaboration, "3M got concerned apparently," Taves told me. "They 
would come check with me periodically — they wouldn't tell me what they were doing," he 
said, "but they wanted to know what I knew." 
12.Taves's 1976 observation that "little has been published" on the toxicity of 
PFCs deserves scrutiny. During the cold war Taves was a leading arbiter of 
fluoride safety for the National Academy of Sciences. (Taves is listed on p. 
396 of the 1977 document "Drinking Water and Health" by his initials as 
an author. This research was conducted by the National Research Council 
for the National Academy of Sciences and the EPA.) Donald Taves may also 
have buried evidence of fluoride's harm to humans on behalf of his Rochester 
colleagues, such as Harold Hodge, who worked for the nuclear program. 

In 1963 another colleague of Dr. Taves at Rochester, Dr. Christine Water-house, 
reported a case in which a patient at the Strong Memorial Hospital, a female nurse, 
"convulsed, aspirated and died suddenly" following kidney dialysis. Waterhouse and a 
team of scientists watched as the forty-one-year-old nurse suffered a collapse of her central 
nervous system. "A bizarre neu-romuscular irritability characterized by a twitching of the 
right arm with occasional generalized convulsive seizures developed five days after the 
third dialysis," Waterhouse reported. Kidney dialysis can greatly concentrate the amount 
of fluoride in blood, scientists suspected. But the Waterhouse team never mentioned 
fluoride as a possible cause of the woman's symptoms or death. L. H. Kretchmar, W. M. 
Greene, C. W. Waterhouse, and W. L. Parry, " Repeated Hemodialysis in Chronic 
Uremia," J. Am. Med. Assoc, vol. 184, no. 41 (1962), pp. 1037-1044. 

Two years later Dr. Donald Taves reported the same case in the medical literature. He 
discussed the high levels of fluoride found in the patient's bones and blood. He speculated 
as to a possible "beneficial" effect from the fluoride. But Taves failed to report that the 
patient had died an hour after dialysis, that she had died in agony, and that the fatality had 
been reported by his Rochester colleague a year earlier. (He claimed that he was unaware 
of Dr. Waterhouse's JAMA paper in which she reported the patient death. However, in the 
acknowledgments in his own work he thanked none other than his colleague, Dr. Christine 


"Did they tell you how the patient had fared?" I asked 'raves. "No, I don't think 
I ever heard," he said. "You were interested in fluoride and dialysis but you didn't 
follow up or ask what had happened to the patient?" I asked. " Right," Taves 
replied. (D. R. Taves, R. 'ferry, F. A. Smith, and D. E. Gardner, " Use of 
Fluoridated Water in Long-Term Hemodialysis," Chronic Uremia., J. Am. Med. 
Assoc, vol. 184 [1963], pp. 1030-1031.) Both Rochester papers were funded by 
the U.S. Public Health Service. Neither mentioned the secret AEC kidney studies 
on human patients performed at Strong Memorial Hospital nor the government's 
interest in fluoride. 

Did Taves censor his paper at the behest of Drs. Waterhouse and Hodge? In the 
1960s Dr. Waterhouse was at the center of cold-war human experimentation, 
monitoring Harold Hodge's Rochester patients who had been given plutonium 
injections. (See Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files [New York: Dial Press, 
1999]') "Waterhouse was uncomfortable with me publishing [the 1965 kidney 
paper]," Taves told me. "She didn't want me to do any-thing that sounded 
antifluoridation. Just like Hodge didn't. They were all biased that way. Hodge had 
gotten on the bandwagon of being in favor of fluoridation so his blinders were up," 
Taves added. 

Similarly, the effects of fluoride on kidneys were another critical concern of 
the scientists overseeing health conditions inside the nuclear factories, and 
Rochester and Kettering researchers each performed multiple human experiments. 
Hodge's researchers performed secret human experiments in the 19405 at 
Rochester, giving fluoride to "patients having kidney diseases" to determine how 
much fluoride their damaged kidneys could excrete, according to declassified 
papers. Extra fluoride was stored in the bones of those injured patients, the 
government scientists found. Quarterly Technical Report, AEC No. UR-38, 1948. 
Also cited in Kettering Laboratory unpublished report, "Annual Report of 
Observations on Fluorides — October 25, 1 954." Kettering did similar 
experiments on patients with damaged kidneys, according to the unpublished 

13. Again, there is not a solitary reference to organofluorines in the book. 

14. There may also be a link between accounts of birds dying, injured humans, 

and carpets impregnated with fluorochemicals, such as Scotchgard. In the early 
1990s CNN and other media reported on families who claimed that they had been 
poisoned by newly installed carpets. One family told the BBC (in an interview 
conducted by the author) that their caged birds had died soon after the new carpet 
arrived. See also U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit No. 94-1882 Sandra 
Ruff in; Catherine Ruff in, by and through her Guardian Ad Litem, C. Timothy 
Williford, Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. Shaw Industries, Incorporated; 
Sherwin-Williams Company, Decided: July 16, 1998. "With their motion for 
summary judgment, defendants submitted the affidavit of Larry D. Winter, an 
analytical chemist for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M). Mr. 
Winter specializes in the analysis of fluorochemicals such as those used in the 
manufacturing of 3M's Scotchguard carpets, the type involved in the present 
case." The case was dismissed. 

354 NOTES TO EPILOGUE / PP. 235-236 

15. Scientific American, March 1, 2001, pp. 16-17. Also, when 3M announced 

that the company was phasing out Scotchgard, the EPA praised 3M's openness in 
sharing data about the toxicity of PFCs. But Purdy is not so sure. As soon as the 
ecotoxicologist arrived at 3M in 1981, he says he grew concerned about the impact of 
PFCs on the environment, proposing new testing. "I could see that this could be a 
potential problematic class of chemicals, and so did everybody else in the ecological 
group," says Purdy. "We were very suspicious that we were seeing the tip of an iceberg. 
There was a proposal to do a lot of different testing — and it wasn't done." 

Former Michigan State scientist Kurunthachalam Kannan is not sure either about 
the 3M announcement in 2000 to phase out PFOS chemicals. "I work closely with 3M 
so I know what is really going on. But in terms of the words "phase out,' when we try to 
talk to them, their people are not sure what it really means [laughs]. It is only a fraction 
of what they really manufacture in terms of organofluorines." Author interview, 2002. 

Also on 3M's internal studies, see the collection of documents in possession of the 
Environmental Working Group. In 1976, 3M company medical tests showed that some 
employees had levels of fluorocarbons in their blood as high as 30 parts per million. 
Although those exposure levels fell for a while, in 1984 blood contamination "remained 
constant or increased," according to 3M documents. That situation prompted concern 
about "employee health" and "corporate liability," according to the documents (thirteen 
tests showed values of over 10 ppm). Subsequently 3M workers showed abnormal liver 
function tests and "high kidney function tests," while other workers had lung 
abnormalities, described as "cases of pleural thickening." (Internal memo from 3M 
doctor Larry Zobel to D. W. Dworak dated March 20, 1987, entitled "Medical 
Examinations.") Also, in the late 1970s, 3M ran toxicity tests for the fluorocarbon PFOS 
on rhesus monkeys. All the animals died. ( J. Morris, "Did 3M and DuPont Ignore 
Evidence of Health Risks?" Mother Jones, September-October 2001, online edition.) 

16. Scientific American, March 1, 2001, pp. 16-17. 

17. "3M's Big Clean Up," Business Week, June 5, 2000 via online edition. 

18. "3M's Big Clean Up," Business Week, June 5, 2000; Scientific American, 

March 1, 2001, pp. 16-17. 

19. Kannan et al., "Perfluorooctane Sulphonate in Fish Eating Water Birds 
Including Bald Eagles and Albatrosses," Environmental Science and Tech 
nology, vol. 35, pp. 3065-3070. 

20. Scientific American, March 1, 2001, pp. 16-17. 


22. It is not the first time DuPont chemicals have been linked to eye defects in 

children. In the early 1990S a DuPont fungicide marketed as Benlate was discovered to 
contain a fluorine chemical called flusalizole, which was not licensed for use in the 
United States. Benlate provided one of the most disastrous and expensive episodes in 
U.S. corporate history. Some of the lawsuits blamed Benlate for causing children to be 
born without eyes. 


DuPont has since paid $1.3 billion in costs and settlements with farmers who used 
Benlate and whose crops were damaged. In July 2003 the Florida Supreme Court also 
reinstated a $4 million jury award to the family of a boy born without eyes, in what the 
Associated Press described as "a birth defect linked to the agricultural pesticide 
Benlate." (Associated Press, July 3, 2002.) And although another judge threw out a 
ruling that DuPont had engaged in "racketeering," by allegedly concealing evidence in 
the Benlate saga, a similar case in Atlanta was settled when DuPont agreed to pay $2.5 
million dollars to each of Georgia's four law schools. 

Judge Hugh Lawson explained that settlement made a statement about the 
importance of legal ethics, according to the New York Times, January 2, 1 999, section 
A, p. 12. How much was learned about legal ethics is not clear. DuPont was also 
accused of destroying evidence in the West Virginia PFC litigation. "In April 2003 a 
Judge in West Virginia found that in 2002, DuPont had destroyed evidence relevant to 
ongoing litigation on PFOA brought by 3000 citizens of West Virginia and Ohio." Press 
Release, Environmental Working Group, June 6, 2003. 

The billion-dollar DuPont/Benlate debacle may be an example of one of fluoride's 
best-known chemical properties gone tragically awry. As early as 1 949 the Atomic 
Energy Commission reported that fluoride had a synergistic ability to boost the toxicity 
of beryllium. When fluoride was added, twice as many rats were killed, according to 
experiments performed at the University of Rochester. (H. Stokinger et al., "The 
Enhancing Effect of the Inhalation of Hydrogen Fluoride Vapor on Beryllium Sulfate 
Poisoning in Animals," UR-68, University of Rochester, unclassified.) Similarly, during 
World War II, Hitler's chemists discovered that fluoride could dramatically boost the 
toxicity of nerve gases. Sarin — the same gas used by Saddam Hussein on the Kurds of 
Halabja and used in the deadly subway attack in Tokyo — is a fluorinated chemical, 
named after the German scientists who invented it. ( Fascinated by Fluorine, p. 515). 
Today drug companies know that adding even a single fluorine atom to a drug molecule 
can boost chemical potency. Numerous modem drugs now contain small amounts of 
fluoride, including the antidepressant Prozac and the powerful antianthrax antibiotic 
Cipro. " Just one fluorine placed at a strategic site in an organic molecule can hot up its 
activity," says the English scientist Eric Banks. "The opportunities for finding something 
useful for society are truly mind blowing." Unfortunately, adding fluorine to drugs may 
also make them quite literally "mind blowing." Cipro, for example has numerous 
reported side effects, including central-nervous-system problems such as acute anxiety. 
And recently several fluorine-containing drugs have been withdrawn because of their 
side effects, including: . Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering drug taken by 700,000 
Americans, and 

linked to 31 deaths in the United States, with at least nine other fatalities 


356 | NOTES TO EPILOGUE / P. 236 

■ Cisapride ("Propulsid"), withdrawn in 2000 because it caused severe cardiac side 


Mibefradil ("Posicor"), withdrawn in 1998 after it was shown that in patients with 
congestive heart failure the dr